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Dan the Man's Movie Reviews

All my aimless thoughts, ideas, and ramblings, all packed into one site!

Tag Archives: Sylvester Stallone

Chuck (2017)

Rocky who? Oh yeah, that guy.

Chuck Wepner (Liev Schrieber), for quite some time, had the life that any person would have wanted to live. He was an accomplished boxer, kicked a lot of people’s assess, had a wonderful wife (Elizabeth Moss), good kids, loyal friends and family, respect, a cool nickname (“the Bayonne Bleeder”), and oh yeah, went 15 rounds with Muhammad Ali. In fact, he was so well-known that, believe it or not, Sylvester Stallone actually used his life and career as the inspiration for Rocky – a fact that, for a very long time, Chuck would continue to let everyone know about, regardless of if they asked or not. But after awhile, Chuck began to get too big of britches and, to go along with his insane drug-habit, he couldn’t stop screwing around with all the wrong people, other women included. Eventually, he loses his job, his wife, his legacy, and oh yeah, his family. So where does he go from there?

No really, where does he go from there?

Uh oh. Chucky go some ‘asplainin’ to do!

See, Chuck was advertised heavily as “the story of the guy who inspired the story of Rocky“, as if any of that really matters. It’s like when John Carter came out and the advertisements were all saying, “the story that inspired Star Wars and Avatar“, once again, as if any of that matters. Because even though the story may have inspired another one, that doesn’t take away from the fact that the adaptation of said story, isn’t conventional, or formulaic.

After all, we didn’t get Chuck before Rocky. The other way around, in fact. So because of that, Chuck comes off a bit like a run-of-the-mill, stationary biopic that hits all of the same beats and rhythymns that Rocky hit, but also feels a little overdone. Because instead of feeling like a movie, of its time, like Rocky did, Chuck goes the extra mile to put us in the place of the 70’s, where coke was everywhere, disco was constantly playing, and people dressed-up so super fly.

Does it kind of work?

Yeah.

It’s hard to have an issue with a movie that makes the energy and glitz of the 70’s so fun and infectious; if anything, it’s nice that they were able to get it all down so perfectly, without feeling like they were trying way too hard to recreate a period of time that they obviously didn’t have the budget for. Director Philippe Falardeau, while no doubt a very serious French director, also seems to be enjoying himself here, not allowing for the material to get too dark or serious, but just to the point where it matters. But for the most part, he’s having a good time and relishing in the period-setting and the details that all went along with it.

Does that help take away from the fact that Chuck is a little conventional and, well, as a result, slight? Not really. But it makes what could have been a very boring movie, turn out a lot more fun and entertaining. It’s still a formulaic boxing movie, about an underdog who had his shot at the big time, accomplished it, and then lost it all due to awful life decisions, but it’s an entertaining one, at that. So yeah, it helps.

All about the hair.

And yeah, it also helps that the ensemble is quite good here and clearly able to keep up with the times.

Liev Schreiber is perfect casting as Wepner, because he not just looks the role, but feels it. There’s something lovable about him, but also makes you realize that he’s a bit of flawed asshole who you can’t always trust, especially not with your wallet or wife, but can always still love, when the end of the day comes around. And that’s what matters for a story like this, about a guy like this, who definitely didn’t make perfect decisions, but was a good time to be around. He had his moment in the spotlight, made it last, and did what he could to keep the party going? Granted, he forgot about his wife, kids, bank-account, and plenty other responsibilities, but hey, who am I to judge?

Either way, Schreiber’s great in the role that he was, essentially, born to play. Everyone else is good from Elizabeth Moss as his annoyed, but strong wife, to Jim Gaffigan in a pretty silly role. But everyone’s good here; even the bit role with Naomi Watts, while feeling a little self-serving, still works because, believe it or not, her and Schreiber do have good chemistry.

See, not every couple has to have their own Gigli.

Maybe that’s why they’re broken-up now. Ugh. True love doesn’t last, people. So love the one you’re with and try to make it last.

That’s the moral of Chuck, right?

Consensus: Formulaic and run-of-the-mill, Chuck is a boxing-drama that doesn’t really break any new ground, but is fun, light, and well-acted enough to get by the conventions that usually keep movies down like this.

6.5 / 10

“Guys. Who’s Sly?”

Photos Courtesy of: IFC Films

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Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 (2017)

American

After the events of the original brought them all together, the Guardians of the Galaxy are back to doing what they do best: Ehrm, guard the, uhm, galaxy. Right? Anyway, things aren’t so different this time around with everyone – Quill (Chris Pratt) still loves himself and thinks everyone else does too; Gamora (Zoe Saldana) still can’t stand him, even though, deep down inside, she wants to maul him like a bear; Drax (Dave Bautista) is still saying uncomfortable things; Baby Groot (Vin Diesel) is, well, still being Groot, but just a baby; and Rocket Raccoon (Bradley Cooper), when he isn’t getting on everyone’s nerves, seems to be trying his hardest to prove himself as the best of the group. Basically, they’re still a rag-tag group of n’er do’wells who understand what they were put together to do, and while they don’t always get along, they like causing all sorts of havoc. And they get to do that, again, when they come face-to-face with a mysterious man named Ego (Kurt Russell) who, better yet, also happens to be Quill’s daddy. But yeah, there’s something off about him that just doesn’t sit right with the group and threatens to ruin them, as well as the galaxy, forever.

They’re Groot.

The first Guardians of the Galaxy was, honestly, one of the better Marvel movies to have come out in some time, for many reasons. One, it was just weird and so different, that yeah, it worked. It wasn’t trying to be like all of the other Marvel movies, it wasn’t trying to tie-in to anything, or anyone else, and it sure as hell wasn’t setting itself aside to make you feel pleased and as if you are a part of the joke. It was its own beast that, despite actually being a product of a huge, overly-budgeted conglomerate, felt like a bad-ass, smart, witty, and self-aware monster that wasn’t afraid to tell you where to shove it.

And some of that, unfortunately, seems to be gone with Vol. 2, however, it’s not nearly as soulless as you may think.

But such is the case with most big-budget, blockbuster sequels, everything that worked so well and felt fresh in the first, sadly, gets overdone here a bit too much. The humor, while still definitely funny, also feels like it hits some lame notes and is just forced for the sake of being humor; the character-stuff, while appreciated, often times feels meandering and as if it’s not deep enough as it likes to be; the plot, while simple and understandable in the first, sort of seems to be overly complicated and covered in exposition that, once again, doesn’t seem to go anywhere, or do much of anything; and oh yeah, the run-time. At a little under two-and-a-half-hours, Vol. 2 does feel long and it shouldn’t – it’s the kind of movie that should constantly zing and zag along, proving to be the most perfect diversion for anyone looking for some sort of action-adventure, pseudo-superhero fun.

And while it sort of is, the movie’s also very long and feels like there’s almost too much going on, without a clear end in sight. James Gunn is no doubt, a very talented writer and director, and is perfect for this material, but even he gets a tad bit carried away; the fact that there is literally five mid-credits sequences should already tell you enough about the length to which this movie goes on till and puts into itself. But then again, when you have a good product, is it a problem to go a little overboard?

In some cases, yes. And Vol. 2 is, as much as it pains me to say, one of those cases.

Then again, the movie’s still a good time, all things considered. It could have definitely done with some trimming in both the writing, the filming, and the editing department, but overall, it feels like a solid piece of its own pie that also, somehow, still exists in the Marvel universe. It still isn’t playing by any sort of pre-conceived rules and it still isn’t trying to please everyone, and for that, it deserves a whole heap of respect. That it’s also a very popular franchise in the first place and a clear money-maker for the already very wealthy Marvel, just goes to show you that there are people out there who will accept and reward creativity, even when that creativity is made for the billions and billions of people out there in the world to buy a ticket and see.

So yeah, Communism rules at the end of the day, right?

He’s Groot.

Anyway, Vol. 2 works well because, by now, we’ve gotten the origin-story out of the way and we can finally, thankfully, get to know who these characters are a bit more and dig in deep. While there’s some questionable character bits and pieces throughout, the bulk of them all work in helping us understand who these colorful cartoons actually are, identify with them a bit, sympathize with them, grow close to them, and oh yeah, also get a little worried and sad when their lives seem to be in danger.

Take, for instance, Michael Rooker’s Vondu who, in the first movie, was a stereotypical villain, with terrible-looking teeth, a mean, grizzled Southern accent, and oh yeah, Michael Rooker playing him. He seemed like a one-and-done kind of character, that would be easy window-dressing for the second, but somehow, he comes close to being the star of the show and with good reason; not only does he have something to offer, in terms of his meaning to the overall story, but he’s actually got a bigger heart and soul than you’d expect. I don’t just chalk this up to Gunn’s solid writing for him, but also Rooker playing to his strengths as an actor, where he’s able to be mean and dirty, but also kind of a softy once you get to know him.

Then again, what can’t Michael Rooker do nowadays? Seriously?

And he’s not just the only character who gets the spotlight a bit and watch it all pay-off. Everyone else from the first, as well as a few new inclusions, all get their time in the sun, and while it may originally seem like overkill, the final-act puts it all into perspective and makes us realize, oh wait, this is about everyone here. Not just Quill; not just Rocket; not just Baby Groot; not just Gamora; not just Drax; and definitely not just the Avengers – but everyone. Needless to say, there’s a final-act here that absolutely worked, as it not only brought tears to this cynical viewer’s eyes, but made me want to watch these characters more and not leave their sides.

They’re just too fun to be away from for so long.

Consensus: While the writing isn’t always there, Vol. 2 still works because of its fun, well-written and exciting characters, to go along with the beauty and excitement of the visuals and action.

7.5 / 10

Yup. We’re all Groot.

Photos Courtesy of: Indiewire

Creed (2015)

And yet, Rocky’s statue isn’t at the top of the steps anymore.

Shortly before he died at the savage hands of Ivan Drago, Apollo Creed (Carl Weathers) had an affair with a woman that led to the birth of a son, Adonis. While many years later, Adonis (Michael B. Jordan) doesn’t keep the “Creed” name and instead, decides to go with his biological mother’s last name, “Johnson”. However, no matter how much Adonis may want to make it seem like he’s not like his father, he’s still following the same path; not only does he want to become a professional boxer, but he also wants to do so in a matter that gains him respect and gratitude from those around him. Though Adonis is quite wealthy and doesn’t have to be fighting, he still feels like he owes it to himself, as well as his daddy’s legacy, which is why he decides to take a trip to Philadelphia and track down his late father’s old buddy/trainer/opponent, Rocky Balboa (Sylvester Stallone). While Rocky is reluctant to train Adonis at first, eventually, he gives in and decides to teach the young man a thing or two about not only controlling his mind in the ring, but out of it, as well. This leads to Adonis trying to make a name for himself in the world of professional boxing, where the conversation always seems to lead more towards who his father is, and less about what sort of talents he actually has as a boxer.

Fedora or no fedora, Sly will still throw down.

Fedora or no fedora, Sly will still throw down.

A lot of people are worried about Creed. The reason for this has solely to do with the fact that the Rocky movies, minus the first, are all pretty silly and, dare I say it, bad. While Rocky will forever and always be considered a classic (as well as it should be), the other various sequels feel as if they do nothing more than just hurt that movie’s great legacy, rather than assist it. Don’t get me wrong, the sequels are all still fine and entertaining, but each and everyone has taken on a different sort of following that has less to do with the underdog, likable spirit of the first movie and more with how over-the-top and cheesy everything in the late-70’s-to-early-90’s were. Therefore, because of these movies not being quite as up-to-par as the iconic original, Creed is looked at as, yet again, another cash-cow for the Rocky franchise.

But have no fear, everybody: Despite it being the seventh installment in said franchise, Creed is possibly the best Rocky movie since the first.

Granted, it’s not saying much, but still, pretty much is.

The main reason as to why Creed works so well and isn’t just another heartless, soulless piece of franchise cinema, is because the talent involved with it, really do seem to genuinely care about where they take this story next. It’s actually quite surprising that no one has yet to even try and create a movie focusing in on Apollo’s family, but regardless of how long it took, it’s great to see that it attracted director Ryan Coogler, who, with Fruitvale Station a few years ago, showed a fresh, young and energetic voice that was desperately wanting to be heard. While Creed is maybe less preachy and topical as that movie, Coogler still does a nice enough job in adding just enough heart and emotion that makes this seem like more than just a traditional boxing movie – it’s got plenty more heart than that.

And of course, most of this can all be chalked up to the fact that Adonis Creed/Johnson, is a pretty well-written character to have your movie revolve around. While there’s no denying that the character of Rocky Balboa will forever and always remain legendary, there’s something sad and heartfelt about Adonis’ road to boxing that makes his journey all the more engaging. Though most fighters are simply fighting because it’s all that they are able to do and make money with, Adonis is doing it more to figure out just where he comes from and exactly who his father was. He doesn’t specifically say this from the very beginning, but it’s clear that, from the very beginning, he’s boxing for a reason and he’ll continue to search for it until he finds it.

It also deserves to be said that Michael B. Jordan, as usual, is stellar as Adonis. Jordan, as he’s done with his past few performances, has shown a genuine sincerity to each and everyone of his characters who, may not always make the smartest decisions out there, but have nice enough hearts that you want to see where they go and what happens to them next. That Adonis is already made to be a superstar like his late, great father, makes him coming to terms with what that all means, quite touching and honest – something that a Rocky movie hasn’t been in quite some time.

Oh, and yeah, while I’m at it, I guess I might as well talk about Rocky, the character, considering that, after all, this movie is sort of about him, too.

There’s no denying the fact that Sylvester Stallone is a good actor; while he definitely has certain limitations to his range, the guy has a few handful of key, interesting performances that shows he’s capable of taking a character and doing wonders with him. Granted, he needs the right guidance to do so, or he just ends up looking and sounding like a blubbering mess, but nonetheless, Sly Stallone is a fine actor. His only problem is that when he’s not appearing in bad flicks, he’s directing himself, and that doesn’t always tend to get the best performance out of him.

However, with Coogler’s direction, Sly digs deeper into Rocky than ever before; rather than just seeing the funny, charismatic and simple Italian Stallion from Philadelphia, we see someone who is coming to terms with the fact of his own existence. There’s plenty talk in this movie about how Rocky is old and may be joining the likes of Paulie and Adrian quite soon, which is not only hard-to-watch, but even harder to fully accept – this is Rocky, dammit! He’s the one and only underdog!

Is anybody else struck by the uncanny resemblance this scene has to this scene in Magic Mike? Just throwing that out there.

Is anybody else struck by the uncanny resemblance this scene has to this scene in Magic Mike? Just throwing that out there.

How can he lose! Better yet, how can he die!

Well, as the movie, as well as Sly’s powerful performance, shows, it’s quite simple: He just can. He’s older now and his bones don’t quite work as well as they used to. That’s why, when we get scenes of Rocky and Adonis training together, whether it be through soft-boxing, punching the bag, jumping rope, jogging, or walking up those infamous steps, it’s hard not to get a twinkle in your eye, a smile on your face, and a warm, fuzzy feeling in the pit of your stomach. In a way, it almost seems like Sly himself, is genuinely happy portraying this role all over again, but like I said, it isn’t just another one of those performances we’ve seen from him before. He’s more raw, understated and interesting than he’s ever been before and it shows just the kind of talent Sly was and, in ways, still is.

He just needs the right people to guide him along every so often.

And because there’s plenty of emotion concerning these characters, the fights themselves pack on an extra punch as well. That we know Adonis needs these fights more than anything, makes it especially hard to watch as he continuously gets beaten to a near-bloody pulp, just to prove that he has what it takes. In a way, it’s almost self-abusive, but it’s still compelling to watch because we care for Adonis and the reason for why it is that he’s fighting. Not to mention that Coogler, too, does a great job at filming these boxing-sequences that make them still feel fresh and exciting.

On a side note, though, Creed also works best, just like the original Rocky, as a nice little postcard of Philadelphia. Being from and currently living in Philadelphia, it was great to see my city not just get a whole lot of attention, but also be discussed and portrayed in a way that makes it seem like a lovely city where anyone can come, find themselves, and achieve all sorts of greatness. For some people living in Philly, they may not believe this all to be true, but still, it’s great to see my city get a much-deserved spotlight, as well as also give me something to point at when talking to my friends about what location, was shown when.

Basically, I’ll just be a tour-guide from here on out.

Consensus: Like it’s well-known predecessors, Creed is a conventional boxing flick, but still features enough heart, emotion and good performances that make this seventh installment still an interesting, if also, fun watch.

8 / 10

Looks like he's got his, "Yo Adrian!" yell down perfectly.

Looks like he’s got his, “Yo Adrian!” yell down perfectly.

Photo’s Credit to: IMDB, AceShowbiz

The Expendables 3 (2014)

They’re old. Get used to it.

Barney Ross (Sylvester Stallone) and the gang are back and older than ever! Which means that with age, comes a lot more violence and harm in their way. And possibly, with their latest target, their lives could all be in actual danger. The baddie this time around goes by the name of Conrad Stonebanks (Mel Gibson) and he’s had a bit of a history with Barney. However, he takes mercy on him and instead, decides to injure the ‘eff out of Caesar (Terry Crews), leaving the rest of the Expendables wanting all sorts of revenge that they can practically taste it in their thyroids. And Barney knows this, which is why he decides to give his old crew a much needed rest, and start up with a new crew of youngin’s just waiting to throw their lives on the line for some under-paid mercenary job they know hardly anything about. Eventually though, the mission ends up getting a whole lot more complicated for Barney and his new rag-tag, which means he may have to bring in all the friends he can think of. Or, better yet, the ones who would agree to work in this for chump change.

It should be no surprise to anyone out there who has gotten to know me through the years that I’m a huge fan of the older action movies of the 80’s/90’s. They always hold a very nice place in my heart and will continue to do so, so long as I still maintain a sense of immaturity. Which is exactly why the Expendables movies, despite being an obvious ploy to get nostalgic-mother-humpers like me in the theater, have always worked for me. No, they aren’t perfect and no, they sure as hell aren’t nearly as good as the twelve-year-old inside of me would have thought it been, but they’re still fun movies that deliver on exactly what you want: Your favorite action stars from yesteryear, kicking ass and blowing shit up all over again.

"Grrrr."

“Grrrr.”

And here, with the third movie in this rather surprising franchise, that’s exactly what you get. But then again though, it’s what we should expect, so it’s hard to really judge a movie on what it’s supposed to be and clearly is. A movie should be followed and dissected on what it does with those expectations, and here, it’s something that isn’t nearly as fun and exciting as the second movie, yet, not nearly as lazy as the first. Somehow, this movie is stuck right in the middle and I think that’s fine.

Sure, would I have liked that there’d been less corny chit-chat between some of these strange duos on-screen? Of course. And while I’m at it, wouldn’t have I at least liked to seen more action scenes that didn’t just contain guns being shot, without ever really seeing what they do in the first place? Most definitely yes! But that’s just me being greedy and picky and all that bad stuff. And while I’m like that with most movies I see, there doesn’t seem to be a reason for any of that chicanery here.

So yeah, back to what I was originally saying – this movie’s pretty fun. And considering that were all stepping into what I know to be the “dog days of summer”, that means a whole heck of a lot. It means a whole heck of a lot that we’re getting a fun, action summer blockbuster, but it also means a whole heck of a lot that we’re getting it courtesy of some people we haven’t seen do stuff like this in quite some time.

I mean, well for Sly, Arnie, Statham, Crews, Couture, Lundgren, and whoever else shows up here that’s shown up in the past two, but as for the other “new breeds”, as I like to call ’em as I sees ’em, it’s great to just see actually working in something again. Even if the material that they are working with is pretty timid, run-of-the-mill stuff, it still makes my heart feel all warm and tingly knowing that, yes, Wesley Snipes may finally be in full comeback mode. Don’t worry, I won’t get my hopes up too high, cause you never know with him, but I will keep my fingers crossed because seeing him here, throwing knives, doing karate and whatnot, made me think of the good old days in which I’d sneak downstairs and watch Blade while everybody else in my house was asleep. The nightmares were terrible, but man, it was oh so worth it!

Come on, Wesley! Just pay your taxes for your gosh sakes!

But I digress, because this movie isn’t just about Wesley Snipes and his much needed return to the big screen; this is about everyone who is involved with the Expendables franchise as a whole. It doesn’t matter if they pop up just to wreck some mofo’s up like Chuck Norris infamously did in the second movie, or if they’re just around to be weird and wear other outfits, from other famous summer blockbusters, much like what Mickey Rourke did in the first movie. See, it’s the little pieces of this cast that make it all worth the while and even though the script is cheesy and at times, god-awful to listen to, it’s fun and it’s hacky for a reason, and it’s only made better because the cast totally seems in on the joke.

I would have dedicated a whole paragraph to him, but I think we all know that wouldn't have gone over quite as well.

I could have dedicated a whole paragraph to him, but I think we all know that wouldn’t have gone over quite as well.

Sure, I could totally do without Arnie self-deprecatingly yelling at people, “GET TO THA CHOPPAA!!”, but it’s something I take with me when I’m watching something like this. Sly and the rest of the clan have finally realized that instead of taking themselves so damn seriously all of the time, that they should just lighten up, crack a few jokes at themselves and move on. There’s no need for a super-duper heavy, melodramatic story about how we all need to get along and maybe even highlight some of the problems over in the Ukraine.

Nope, not here. Because here, it’s all about the guns, the blood, the violence, the shooting, the wise-cracks, the half-naked men, the sweating, the yelling, the constant “bro-ing”, the running, the helicopters, the tanks, the explosions, the bikes, the knives, the guts, the, well, everything that has to do with an action movie of this nature.

And Kelsey Grammar for some odd reason. But I guess we can just leave that as is. A little Frasier here and there never hurt anyone too bad.

Consensus: Everything you’d expect from an Expendables movie, yet, not nearly as good as the second, nor nearly as mellowed-out as the first. In other words, it’s just right if you’re hankering for some serious fun and nostalgia.

7.5 / 10 = Rental!!

More than half of who's pictured here could be dead in the next year, so they better get on the next movie quick!

More than half of who’s pictured here could be dead in the next year, so they better get on the next movie quick!

Photo’s Credit to: Goggle Images

Grudge Match (2013)

The fight we all wanted and prayed for is finally here! Thirty-years later, of course.

Back in the good old days of the 80’s, two famed-boxers, Henry “Razor” Sharp (Sylvester Stallone) and Billy “the Kid” McDonnen (Robert De Niro), had one of the biggest, and best rivalries anyone sports fan had ever seen. They both had a win on the other, which obviously meant that there would be begs and pleads for a the all-time classic “rubber match”, but sadly, that didn’t happen. Razor ended-up retiring, retreating to his suburban-roots in Pittsburgh PA., and ultimately, leaving the spotlight forever; whereas the Kid just continued doing what it was that he was doing with boxing, still fighting, still collecting paychecks, still wooing the ladies, all up until the time came for him to retire and buy his own bar, in which he still makes money off of and have a great time with. Now, after nearly thirty-years, through a series of strange events, the modern-day media all of a sudden wants the end-all, be-all rematch two happen between these two, and some head-shot promoter (Kevin Hart) is the one to get it all back together. The only problem would actually be getting these two in the same ring together at all, which holds more problems than what may seem on the surface, all because of some personal issues the two ran into with a girl (Kim Basinger) they both had relations with.

Here it is, everybody! The fight we all waited so desperately for: Jake LaMotta vs. Rocky Balboa! Except, take about thirty, some-odd years later, and Grudge Match is what we have.

Oh my! So meta!

Oh my! So meta!

Disappointed? I’d sure as hell say so!

Basically, what it is that we have on our hands here is a joke movie that seems like it was solely made so that these two aging, but still-popular stars can get in the ring together, and do what every movie-nerd has been chatting on and on about for years. But, since they are in fact old (Sly is 67, Bob is 70), that means we get a whole bunch of “old people jokes” that include rectal exams, Viagra, boners, menopause, heart-attacks, Alzheimer, and so on and so forth. Which, needless to say, aren’t all that funny, but yet, also aren’t that harmless neither. In fact, I’d say that some of these jokes are a bit funnier than what I’ve seen in many other “old people” comedies; much more so than Stand Up Guys or Last Vegas.

However though, it was once the movie started diving into such comedic-territory like racism, or homophobia, or even rape, is where I began to draw the line and realize that hey, maybe this movie needs to calm it down and get on with the story. And if it isn’t going to get on with its story, then at least get on with its character. And well, hell, if it sure as hell isn’t going to get on with its characters, then it surely might as well get on with the actual boxing match itself. You know? The same boxing match most fans have been desperately clamming over thirty-years for? Yeah, well they do get on with that, but it takes us about two-hours to get there. In the meantime, we’re subject to all sorts of jokes that either hit hard (anything with Kevin Hart and/or Alan Arkin doing what it is that they do best), or miss terribly (the whole idea of making blow job jokes in front of a seven-year-old was a terrible one in the first place, but to have it play out the way it did, just added insult to injury).

Don’t get me wrong though, it’s not like I’m saying that this movie isn’t funny, because it can be, it just takes some standard jokes that we’ve seen and/or heard a million-hundred times before, and doesn’t really put a new spin on them. That’s all. And if this were an-hour-and-a-half-movie where all we got was some back-story, and some of this over-the-top comedy, I’d be all fine and dandy with that. However, the movie piles one element, on top of the other, all up until it’s two-hour-mark, and then the movie itself realizes that it actually has to include the boxing match we were all initially promised.

Which, even when it does show up, it’s so poorly-done, you can’t help but to get past its several obvious problems. For instance, it’s very clear who has the better body of the two, but I won’t even bother to dive into that. Instead, I’ll just yammer-on about the obvious difference in weight-classes between De Niro and Stallone and how, in the real world of professional-boxing, this fight would: a) Never happen, and b) not at all go down the way it did. I don’t want to give away what it is that exactly happens in this brawl between these two, as it actually may bring some fun and enjoyment for you peeps out there, but needless to say, the fight goes down the exact way you’d expect a sports movie to have itself go down, and already, it just never works.

Some may say I’m an a-hole for going into a movie like this where two old-as-hell men are battling in the ring and actually got “some” medical clearance for this, expecting some sense of realism, but I say I’m just a guy who wants his entertainment done right. Especially when it concerns two stars like De Niro and Stallone who have both been way, way better than they are here, and not too long ago neither. Stallone hasn’t really been stretching his acting-muscles much lately, but he’s still shown that he’s able to turn that charm on, make us laugh and make us still think of him as the lovable, goofy meathead that he was all those years ago.

I see plenty of timeouts in that little seven-year-old's future.

I see plenty of timeouts in that seven-year-old’s future.

As for De Niro, he’s had better luck in terms of being able to show us what it is that he can still do with dramatic, worthy-enough material; the only problem is, is that it just hasn’t been too often. Sure, he’ll knock it out of the park with something like Silver Linings Playbook, but for every dramatic, subtle-turn he gives, there’s about two or three Fockers sequels just waiting in line. De Niro can usually charm his way into making anything good, and he does his job well here, but after awhile, it becomes painfully clear to us that he’s slumming it for this role, and slumming it hard. The fact that he’s still considered this hardcore womanizer and boozer, and still actually living all of these years later, is a bit ridiculous, but De Niro sells it for all that it’s worth. It just doesn’t work as well as it should for a guy of De Niro’s talents, and it makes me wish he’d just take better work. It’s not like he can’t get it, either!

Perhaps having a dedicated solely to the developing-relationship between the Kid’s son, played very-well by a favorite of mine, Jon Bernthal, and the Kid himself would have been a smarter move on the movie’s part, because it’s quite clear that’s where most of the interesting elements are. It helps that Bernthal is good as the Kid’s son and provides a maybe too-dramatic look at a grown-up man just trying to find a common-ground between he and his estranged daddy, but it also helps that he and De Niro work together, which makes plenty more sense once you realize that Bernthal was in Martin Scorsese’s Wolf of Wall Street, too! See the connection!?!? Woo, I’m good!

Anyway, as good as the two are together, the movie doesn’t really do them much justice and instead, decides to splice their scenes alongside those of Razor’s and his budding-romance with an old-fling of his, played by a still-looking-good Kim Basinger. In all honesty, Basinger and Stallone are good enough together to make their scenes work, but after awhile, it’s obvious that they’re what’s sucking most of the wind out of this movie and eventually, it gets to the point of where you just want someone to throw on the gloves, get in the ring and start pummeling another person. Was that too much to ask for in a boxing movie? I mean, really?!!?

Consensus: Fanboys from all over the globe who have been awaiting for this bout to actually happen, may be a bit disappointed with Grudge Match, and how it takes too long to get where it needs to go, and provides us with too much filler that’s either too desperately funny, or just not funny at all.

5.5 / 10 = Rental!!

Quick! Somebody throw the first punch before the other one keels over!

Quick! Somebody throw the first punch before the other one keels over!

Photo’s Credit to: IMDBColliderJobloComingSoon.net

Homefront (2013)

Them Southern belles and boys don’t take too kindly to British lads around their parks.

After a drug-bust goes slightly wrong, DEA Agent Phil Broker (Jason Statham) and his little girl Maddy (Izabela Vidovic) relocate to a small, abandoned Louisiana house where they are practically left alone and allowed to resume their normal, everyday lives as if nothing ever happened. It seems to be going well for awhile too, that is until Maddy violently retaliates to a bully, breaking this kid’s nose and everything. The boy’s mother (Kate Bosworth), despite looking like she’s constantly in need of a meth-fix everytime she shows up, somehow starts up all the right trouble, giving Phil Broker the kind of unwanted reputation that usually drives out new-folk to this small town. It gets so bad, actually, that she even goes so far as to call up her drug-dealing, big bro Gator (James Franco) who knows a thing or two about Phil’s past that puts him and Maddy in some serious danger. Then again though, Phil being played by Jason Statham and all, we know he won’t go down without a fight.

First things first, I think it’s best to tell everybody right off-the-bat that this flick is written by none other than Mr. Sly Stallone himself, which already gives you the idea that not a single ounce of this movie should be taken seriously. Because, in the past couple of years, with the movie’s he’s been participating in, it doesn’t seem like he has, so why the hell should we, you know? Some part of me wishes that this movie took that idea and ran with it, but instead, this is what we’re left with: A big, dumb, brainless action-thriller, somehow disguised as deadly-serious, slow-burner.

Even with the gun in his hand, The Stath's still got time for his daughter.

Even with the gun in his hand, The Stath’s still got time for his daughter.

And that’s the biggest mistake I think Sly could have ever made with this material.

With a movie this outrageous, it almost feels like you just have to make it something that’s quick, loud and to the point, just so we don’t realize all of the cracks with the important elements that go into making a movie. Elements like say, acting, writing, directing, originality, and so on and so forth. Nope, you can’t find much of that here, and even when you do, it’s not of any great quality to really call home about. Instead, we’re mainly just presented with something that should have been a totally fun, exciting and well-worth it time-burner, but we get something that takes its time a little too much.

Don’t get me wrong though, I’m fine with a movie trying to tell its story, set-up its pace and give us characters to care about, mainly through developing them and showing dimensions, but this isn’t that type of movie. It’s much more of something that should be balls-to-the-walls crazy, over-the-top and nutty, as if we were watching a movie dear ol’ Sly himself would have actually starred in way back when. Heck, I don’t know why he didn’t star in this one as it was! Sure, he’s a bit older now and most of the fighting scenes would have looked hella cheesy and tacked-on with him moving around, but who cares. His type of silliness would have made this movie at least somewhat charming, rather than just emotionless, but sometimes fun.

But you know, I can’t really get on a flick like this, because when it’s having fun, it’s a good time to be around for. The only problem with all of the fine action set-pieces is that once we actually get to the point where one occurs, it takes a long while for us to get to the next one where we have to pay attention to the characters, the directing and the most simplest of them all, the acting. Now, I’m not saying that any of these actors in these roles are per se, bad, it’s just that they don’t necessarily bring anything to the table, nor do they make the material better or worse with their presences being felt. They’re just there to act like window-dressing for a whole bunch of explosions, guns, bullets, drugs, sex and violence. A whole lotta violence too, may I add.

Jason Statham, whether you love him, or you definitely hate him, there’s a certain charm about him in these movies that somehow works, if only just for his character. He doesn’t really try to dig any deeper with this wholesome daddy, yet, savage beast known as Phil Broker, but he gets the job done more than he doesn’t. Especially when he’s just kicking ass, taking names and saying some sort of cocky one-liner that’s only funny to the people closest to the speakers who can actually decipher what the hell he’s saying underneath that freakin’ accent. Seriously, I get that the guy is born and bred from England, but he needs to help us out a bit with that “talk” of his. I mean, seriously. It’s literally been eight or so years since the last time he was in a Guy Ritchie movie. Help us out, pal!

However, the strangest thing behind this whole movie is that this is being advertised as yet another, big, dumb, stupid, action-vehicle starring Jason Statham, and somehow, these really well-known, very talented stars got involved with the supporting cast, making you wonder why they even signed up to do this in the first place. But after awhile, it becomes clear: They just want to stretch their wings out a bit. That’s not a bad thing neither, considering some of these names in here do desperately need to show us that they still got the goods to sell us on anything it is that they do, but there’s nothing at all for them to do.

Yeah, I mean that's trashy, right?

Yeah, I mean that’s trashy, right?

The most prime example of this fact would be James Franco’s Gator. We all know that James Franco loves to switch things up with his career, whether he’d be playing a wanna-be-gangsta, Allen Ginsberg, or even himself, it doesn’t matter because Franco’s one of the brightest and bestest talents right now that loves doing cool things with his career, and seems to always succeed at pulling them off, no matter how random or obscure those decisions of his may be. This is where I think he goes a bit too far with those odd choices, but it’s less of his fault, and more of the script, although he’s definitely partially to be blamed, too. The problem with Gator isn’t that he’s a bad dude, it’s just that he isn’t very interesting or even worth even being scared by. You sort of always know that Statham’s going to kick this guy’s ass no matter what, and most likely go home with a win at the end of the day. Franco definitely could have made this character interesting, compelling or even fun to watch, but oddly enough, Franco kind of straight-faces his performance the whole time, despite this guy being a backwater meth-dealer, which is already plenty enough substance to make a person want to go crazy with a performance. So basically, if you put these two problems together, you just get a lame character, with a very strange and dull performance from Franco.

Something I never thought was possible, but hey, I guess anything truly is possible in a Jason Statham, action-vehicle.

The rest of the cast fair-off a bit better than Franco, however, it’s obvious that they definitely try all that they can do to make this work as well. Sometimes, painfully so. Winona Ryder does what Franco should have done, and gives her biker-trash girlfriend enough craziness to actually make us want to feel like we want to watch her, however, it’s pretty hard to watch when all you know that she’s doing is just acting all crazy, just to act crazy and try to steer our minds away from the bad script; Frank Grillo plays, YET AGAIN, another villain but he handles it fine and shows that he can still steal the show, even if he does show up with only about ten minutes left in the movie; and Kate Bosworth, despite never impressing me before in her long-storied career, somehow becomes the most believable and most interesting character out of the whole bunch, despite her practically yelling, hootin’, hollerin’ and looking like she’s in desperate need of a shower, everytime it is that we see her. Never been too big of a fan of hers, but I’m always ready to be impressed and surprised. And hey, it’s like what I said before: Anything truly is possible in a Jason Statham, action-vehicle.

Consensus: While there are spouts of action, fun and tension to be found in Homefront, they still don’t add to much of a movie that’s worth investing time in, or even really caring for. You just want to see the explosions, the violence and the asses being kicked, so you can be on your merry way. Is that too much to ask?

5 / 10 = Rental!!

The first, and maybe only, time that Kate Bosworth acted out James Franco. He'll sure as hell remember this for the rest of his life.

The first, and maybe only, time that Kate Bosworth acted out James Franco. He’ll sure as hell remember this for the rest of his life.

Photo’s Credit to: IMDBColliderJobloComingSoon.net

Escape Plan (2013)

Imagine joining a prison gang with these two. Yeah, you better not screw up. EVER.

In order to deem whether or not prisons are “inescapable”, Ray Breslin (Sylvester Stallone) takes the hard job of getting thrown into these prisons, and actually test out whether or not he can use whatever trick in his books to escape. He’s been to plenty in his life, has escaped them all, and better yet, has even writing a book telling prison owners how not to get caught up in the same kind of funk most of these other owners find themselves in. However, Breslin may have meet his biggest, toughest, and possibly, even final match when he gets thrown into a full-scale prison that’s mysteriously so off-the-books and hidden, that nobody has a clue that it exists. That’s how the warden (Jim Caviezel) likes it and wants it to stay, by any means possible. But once Breslin gets acquainted with fellow inmate Emil Rottmayer (Arnold Schwarzenegger), then he knows he’s going to have stack up on everything from security, protection, and most of all, his power.

The pairing of Sly and Ahnuld may have seemed like a pipedream for most Hollywood executives back in the 80’s and 90’s, but now, over 2 decades later and with both gentleman verging on the age of 70, now is as good a time as ever! And yes, before any of you do get all up in my grill about how they both appeared together on the same-screen in the two Expendables movies, they don’t necessarily count. Yes, they show up on-screen together for a bit and throw winks and head-nods towards one another, but they aren’t really substantial roles or time-limits where you can feel like you’re 10-year-old’s boy dreams have come true right in front of your own very eyes.

When he isn't punching meat, Rocky working on his mime.

When he isn’t punching meat, Rocky working on his mime.

However, now you can have those dreams come true, regardless of if you’re way into your 30’s/40’s or not. Either way, it’s Arnie and Sly together, for a full movie! And while Sly does get the bigger role of the two, there’s still plenty of celebration needed to be had here because not only do the two seem like they really do enjoy working with one another, but also seem to have really invested themselves in this material, that it doesn’t feel like a 2-hour-long joke like the Expendables movies do. Instead, this somehow feels like a long lost action film the two could have made during the peaks of their fame in the late-80’s-mid-90’s, and it works.

While the movie does feel like it is a bit too serious for its own good, you still get the feeling that everybody involved set out to make a fun, dumb, and obviously implausible movie that could only be made with action legends at the helm such as these two. Together, they make good use of the time that they have together and while they don’t get to shoot as many guns as they may have wanted to, you still get the feeling that you’re not missing out on something either. You know that the plot will start to move, and once it does, the tension will pick up and so will the action, violence, blood, and all of that fun stuff. Like I said, it made me feel like I was watching a serious, but respectively made action film either of these two could have made back in their golden days, and it did a great deal for the material and made it more fun to watch, rather than just joking the whole time.

Now, that said, it IS an Arnie and Sly team-up, which means you’re definitely not going to get the smartest material out there, but then again, I don’t really know if that’s the point here. The whole idea of getting out of this prison seems pretty far-fetched, but the whole idea of an underground prison where all of these dangerous people are left not having any clue where they are at and forced to live out the rest of their days in total and complete solitary confinement, seems pretty far-fetched. However, the movie milks it for all that it’s worth and I was taken for a few of the twists and turns this movie comes up with out of nowhere. That may have been the case because they were so stupid and random that nobody, not even the writer himself, could even predict it; however, I was all game for those types of surprises because it just added more and more to my overall enjoyment of this movie.

Before I go any further though, it should be noted that Sly and Arnie, for their first, full-length team-up, don’t crap out on any of us wanting the best from these two, even if their acting skills sort of have rusted-up a lot in the past few years. Listening to these two have a conversation, whether it be about the next step in their escape plan, or just a simple session of shooting the breeze, you’ll scratch your head in wonderment of what the hell it is that they are saying, and also, why every line had to be a pun. I get that this is the best way these two can get a reaction out of the crowd that isn’t full of anger or cheers, but seriously, have a normal conversation every once and awhile, would ya?!!? Maybe that’s just me asking too much from a movie like this, and if that’s the case, I do apologize. Not just to you, the reader, but to both Arnie and Sly as well, seeing as they couldn’t hold back their internal joy and happiness of being able to work together for a single second here. But the energy is palpable and you can’t help but fall in line once the going gets going.

"Say what about me playing Jesus?"

“Say what about me playing Jesus?”

Luckily for those two hooligans though, is that when we aren’t too busy listening to them slurring their words like my Uncle Johnny on a Tuesday evening, the supporting cast is taking full-control in giving all that they got with this scrappy material. Some better than others, but hey, what do you expect from a script this dumb? 50 Cent, not Curtis Jackson, is actually funny playing Breslin’s most trusted and loyal co-worker, finding any hint or clue that may lead him to be reunited with his bud; Amy Ryan is hot, spicy and fun as the only important female in this whole flick filled with ungodly amounts of testosterone, but she holds her own, like she always does; Vincent D’Onofrio is slimy and a bit of a dick as Breslin’s boss, but with that bit of casting, I bet you already expected that, and last, but certainly not least, we have Jim Caviezel as the sick, twisted, and slightly sadistic warden of this new prison Breslin gets thrown into.

Ever since he was crucified all of those years ago, Caviezel hasn’t really shown his face around much, yet, still did enough work to where we knew he was in fact, alive, well, and still working. That’s why you can probably forgive me for when I say that not only does Caviezel steal every scene he’s in, but practically walks away with the whole movie in his bare palms when all is said and done. And yes, I do mean that he’s doing such a thing in an Arnie and Sly team-up, actioner! Caviezel is just so dead-pan, weird, and off-kilter that you wonder what’s going through his mind at any given moment and even if you don’t want to go that far, you can still be interested knowing that he is unpredictable and willing to do whatever it takes to ensure his reputation as a bad-ass son-of-a-bitch. Never thought I’d get that type of role from the same cat who played Jesus Christ, but I’ll be damned if this guy doesn’t have range!

Consensus: While you don’t need a whole lot of brain-power to enjoy Escape Plan, just know that this may be the first, last, and possibly only full-length team-up we’ll ever get between Arnie and Sly, which means you can’t take any of it for granted, in the same vein that they aren’t, enjoying every second that they got together with each other and this material. That’s right, it’s like a little something we call love. Or a bromance. Same thing.

7 / 10 = Rental!!

"We're back!! For the fourth time!"

“We’re back!! For the fourth time!”

Photo’s Credit to: IMDBColliderJobloComingSoon.net

Bullet to the Head (2013)

Rocky traded in his gloves, for a junk-load of guns and nobody cared. Poor guy.

After hitman Jimmy “Bobo” (Sylvester Stallone) is set up on a hit on him and his partner gets killed for it by a ruthless mercenary named Keegan (Jason Momoa), he isn’t quite happy so therefore, he sets out to gain revenge on these rat bastards who put a bounty on his head. Seems like a simple job of killing people, getting money, and relaxing with a bottle of whisky at the end of the day, for Bobo, but it all gets a bit screwed up once a detective (Sung Kang) gets in the way and try to get them to work together, and if not, well, then Bobo’s going to jail for all of the bad shite that he’s done in the past. Obviously Bobo would much rather take the job than the price to pay, but it becomes harder and harder for these two to really get along and actually come to terms that one of them has to go to jail for something, along the line.

First, Arnie got his big comeback movie that bombed, and now Sly gets his comeback movie, and it bombed as well. What’s the dealio, folks?!?! Even though the latter’s bomb wasn’t as bad as the former’s, it’s still sad to know that these two guys, despite the action icons that they once were, and still are in a way today, can’t seem to cut a break with the current movie-going audience as people can’t really accept older dudes still kicking ass, shooting guns, and having the coolest things to say, as if they were still in their late-20’s/early 30’s. It doesn’t work on us anymore and it’s a shame too, because these guys will always and forever be in our hearts, even if their names may not be attached to our tickets. Sad, sad, sad. But hey, at least they still have some fun for the most part, right?

Well, I can’t lie, but yeah, they do. The Last Stand was a pretty entertaining movie that knew it was dumb and had a fun time being so, and this movie is sort of the same thing, with obvious differences seen. Actually, probably one of the main differences between the two is that that one was probably a lot better, whereas this one is just something that you watch, have fun with, but are really reminded that you lost your brain for an hour-and-a-half. I mean, yeah; Arnie’s movie wasn’t on top of the IQ level either, but hell, at least it didn’t have me feel like I just smoked a ton of pot by all of the brain cells that I lost.

"Oooh! Close one! Nice job!"

“Oooh! Close one! Nice job!”

That’s exactly what this flick made me feel like when it was over and yeah, maybe that’s the point, but at least more effort and time could have been put into this thing. Then again, the fact that it was pushed-back two years from it’s original release date, and that Walter Hill hasn’t really made a good movie in awhile, I guess I can sort of see why it’s so bad at times. The tone is just all-over-the-place, because it can’t make up it’s mind as to whether or not it wants to be a buddy-cop comedy or a straight-up action thriller, with Sly’s little comments on the side. There are times when the movie seems like it wants to be funny with Sly and Kang, and there are other times where it seems like it wants to be serious and melodramatic with it’s action, guns,  and violence, but it never makes sense of which way it’s going.

It’s almost as if Hill got stuck in the middle of an intersection, had his GPS fizzle out on him, and he just sat there, called  AAA, and continued to wait and wait until someone or something saved him. Stupid analogy, I know, but it’s all that I could come up with, since Hill didn’t seem to come up with anything else here, other than a bunch of scenes of people using a bunch of exposition, going from point-A to point-B, and saying that they are going to kill the other one in a violent, scary way. That’s all there is to it, and when the action actually does come around and liven things up a bit; it doesn’t do it’s job like it should, which is a huge bummer since we know where Hill and Sly come from.

So, why the hell was this such a bummer?!?!

It’s rated-R, it has blood, it has shooting, it has violence, and it even has nudity (thank the high heavens for Sarah Shahi), so why the hell does this flick not capitalize on the fact that it could have been something straight from the 80’s? I honestly have no clue, but with all of the shaky-cam elements and the toning back of being violent and brutal, just for the sake of being so, I can tell that Sly and Hill’s control sort of got lessened-down, month by month, once this movie began to make it’s way to the theaters. It’s a real shame too, because together, you’d think that these guys would have had a total blast working together and would want to show it; but something didn’t feel right here. I guess I just wanted a bit more than I was given. So be it, I’m greedy.

But if there was anybody at all involved with this movie that seemed to be having fun, it was Sly himself as Bobo, a great character for a great action star. Sly may be getting older, but in terms of his acting and his physical-being; it does not show. Yeah, the dude is 66 and you’ll sometimes wonder how a man of his age and his stature can still do half of the shit that Bobo does, but you’ll be willing to forgive and forget about it once Sly takes out the guns (literal and joking sense), starts hammering away at some baddies, and uses some of the best lines I’ve heard him use in quite some time. He makes fun of the fact that he’s getting older and what he used to do back in the day, but it isn’t as jokey as his Expendables movies are.

"See, dad? Because you weren't there for me when I was growing up, I now look like the walls in the Subway."

“See, dad? Because you weren’t there for me when I was growing up, I now look like the side streets of Philly.”

Everybody else compared to Sly, are disappointments. However, not huge ones because you can tell that they were only doing it for the money, and weren’t too concerned with how their careers looked after it was over. You could have gotten rid of Sung Kang in this movie and I would have not noticed a single lick of a difference here whatsoever, except that the movie would have probably sped-up a lot quicker and even been better in most areas, too. It’s not that the dude’s bad, but the script he’s given is such crap, that he doesn’t have much development or emotional connection to this story whatsoever, that you just wish Sly would flip his switch and kill him off. He isn’t as annoying as I may make him sound, but he sure as hell is boring and a waste of time to watch, especially when he’s next to Sly who seems like he’s just having a grand time being himself, and nothing else.

Consensus: There is plenty of dumb, silly, and nonsensical violence and action to be found in Bullet to the Head that will still make you feel as if you are watching an old-school movie, starring a very old-school Stallone, but everything else around him goes terribly, terribly wrong in their own ways that it brings him, as well as the movie, down to near-boredom.

5 / 10 = Rental!!

"You're so old that nobody goes to see your movies unless you have all of your other OLD friends with you. Okay, should I leave now?"

“You’re so old that nobody goes to see your movies unless you have all of your other OLD friends with you. Okay, should I leave now?”

Photo’s Credit to: IMDBColliderJobloComingSoon.net

Demolition Man (1993)

In the future, essentially, we’re all going to be a bunch of rich hippies. Tell me something I don’t already know!

It is the year 1996, John Spartan (Sylvester Stallone) is the LAPD sergeant that always gets the job done and solves crime because he has a pride for it. However, the only obstacle crime he can’t solve are the ones committed by known criminal Simon Phoenix (Wesley Snipes). However, on one fateful night, Spartan gets Phoenix cornered and ready for jail, until Spartan realizes that he accidentally just killed innocent hostages by doing so in the process. Though Phoenix is jailed for all of the bad things he’s done, Spartan is somehow thrown in the slammer with him, but since this is supposed to be “the future”, a simple “doing time” wouldn’t sit well with the powers that be. Nope, instead, both men are cryogenically frozen until their parole date comes up. When it finally does, some 30 years later, the men awaken to a world that’s full of sweet, sensitive people that don’t believe in the act of violence, cursing or wiping their rumps with actual paper. This is, essentially, the perfect world for Phoenix to raise all sorts of hell in, whereas for Spartan, he has a bit of trouble getting use to the calm way of handling things, even when it comes down to getting his man: PHOENIX!!

With mostly all of Sly Stallone’s flicks, you expect sure stupidity, but you also expect there to be a lot of fun thrown into the equation. Because surely, you can’t just have a movie that’s plain, old stupid, without it at least being a little fun as well, can you? I don’t think so, but that’s just me. Anyway, what I think what separates this flick from the many other, Sly-vehicles, is that there’s something “more enjoyable” to this material that makes it worth the while, even if you aren’t getting non-stop thrills and action.

"I'm yo cracka's nightmare!"

“I’m yo cracka’s nightmare!”

See, what works so well with this movie is that despite it being totally advertised as, and starting off as a full-on rated-R, action-thriller, the movie’s more of a satirical comedy on what our future would look like, had society had enough of all the nonsensical violence and inappropriateness that plagued our culture right around the early-to-mid 90’s. Can’t say that it’s really halted either, but that’s another discussion for another site. This is all about movies and reviews after all, so let’s get on with it!

Even though I was quick enough to actually call this a “satirical comedy” that doesn’t mean it’s smart in any way either. It’s a dumb movie, but has a bit more of an edge to it that has it be more than just a time-killer at the movies. It features funny moments in which the writers actually thought of something clever to use or say, in order to get a rise out of the audience, and it allows us to play around in our heads, whether or not a future like this would ever happen in a world/society such as ours? It’s strange to think that these are the types of ideas you could have rambling around in your mind during a Sly Stallone flick, but that’s what happens when you put more effort into your work, rather than just making it another “pay-day” job, done for the sake that you have cover for your hot-tub.

That said, don’t get me wrong, this movie is as silly as you can get with a Sly movie, and features all of the same type of action we know, and for some, love to see come from one of this guys’ movies. It’s over-the-top, campy, unbelievable, and breaks more laws of physics than it should, but that’s the point of this movie, even when the action’s not on the screen. Even then, the movie still seems to place its motives in the act of entertaining us, have us laugh and make us feel like we’re watching a movie that’s worth the trip, no matter how long or excessive it may seem. Which yes, it is excessive and rather long for its type, but it still worked well enough in holding my interest the way an action-flick of its very nature should.

But like I’ve been alluding to many, many times in this review: This is a Sly Stallone movie, and should not be taken seriously at all, and that’s mainly because he’s such a goof-ball to begin with. Sly’s skills as an actor may not be all that equipped with handling comedy well, but he’s able to poke some jokes at his own image, while also throwing some other, iconic action-stars under the bus as well. That “Schwarzenegger as president” joke? Pure hilarity, but only because of what we know as human-beings in the year 2013. 10 years ago, they probably weren’t laughing because it was almost too stupid, but nowadays, it was pretty damn close to happening. Whoever thought that Demolition Man would come close to predicting something in the future as ridiculous as the Terminator stepping into political office? Not me, that’s for sure.

"I am da law. Oh, different movie? Whatever, same premise."

“I am da law. Oh, different movie? Whatever, same premise.”

Sly’s good at pulling off this kind of material, and so is Wesley Snipes who is so over-the-top, that you have to begin to question just what the hell were in his Wheat Thins that he had before shooting? Seriously, the dude is total and complete bonkers, but rightfully so. The whole movie centers around him scaring the hell out of a every simple piece of white folk that he runs into, which is what Snipes does so perfectly and with so much energy and excitement that you just have to give him some credit, even though if he acted this way in another movie, it would be absolute torture to witness.

Same goes for Benjamin Bratt and Sandra Bullock who usually get on people’s nerves whenever they are seen in something nowadays, but were just getting their careers off the ground at, and around this time, making it a nice slice of history to see, or at least say you’ve seen. Bullock is as fun and vivacious as ever, and proves to be willing enough to play around with Sly and in ways, even bring out the best in his acting. Must have been a very rough challenge for an up-and-coming actress to attack, but it’s a challenge that she was up to, and not much has changed in the past 20 years or so. Good for her, probably not as good for Bratt, but hey, at least they both got the chance to bang one another for awhile thanks to this. And that has to account for something, right?

Consensus: While many will automatically see Demolition Man as another dumb action flick, it’s surprisingly more of a comedy, with a bit of a satirical edge that makes it more than just stupid fun, although I wouldn’t argue against those many who call it “dumb”, because it totally is, but there’s fun to be had in its dumbness.

7.5 / 10 = Rental!!

A series of bad career choices just await.

A series of bad career choices just await.

Photo’s Credit to: IMDBColliderJobloComingSoon.net

Rocky II (1979)

“Yo Adriaaaaaaaaaaaaaaan!! I’m baaaaaaaackkk!!”

Beginning right where the first left off, Rocky (Sylvester Stallone) marries Adrian (Talia Shire) and promises never to fight again. But when the two run into a bunch of moolah-problems and find out that Rocky can’t make a living any other way, he agrees to a rematch with heavyweight champ Apollo Creed (Carl Weathers), who wants to prove Rocky going the distance with him in their first match was nothing more than a fluke. However, there’s more skill and smarts in Rocky, but also in Apollo. Ding ding ding!

Much like other films such as Halloween, Nightmare on Elm Street, and plenty other flicks, Rocky may have been a classic film by all-means, but it’s reputation still gets hurt a bit by the endless need of unnecessary sequels that were made after the original. It’s already been six movies later, and I think it’s safe to say that everybody, and their mothers have had it up to here with Rocky, Adrian, Paulie, and all of the other, over-the-top villains they could pick-up next. Thankfully, this one didn’t do too much to ruin the legacy, but instead: just repeated it. Doesn’t hurt, but doesn’t help much either.

Rather than bringing the awesome John G. Avildsen back to the director’s chair, Stallone takes his own shot (pun intended) at writing and directing this flick and it isn’t as bad as you would imagine from this big baffoon. Stallone redoes everything here that we saw and loved from the first one, but this time, adds a little bit more drama and character development to it. I liked that approach because it not only showed us just how Rocky would grow-up as a father and a husband, but also as a guy that’s trying to make a living with whatever he can do other than knocking out other dudes. You never know what it’s like for these dudes after they hit their peak and realize that they have to live in the real-world, with real families, real people, and make real money, so that was pretty interesting to see from a sequel that was all about the hustle, the bustle, and the glam of being a pro-boxer and being stuck in that world. There’s also more development between Rocky and Adrian and it’s sweet to see, as we all know that they love each other, but never fully got the sense of it until now. It’s great to see them live together, inter-act with one another, and try their hardest to live in a nice home and not chop each other’s neck’s off. It’s a hard thing to do as a married-couple, but it can work.

It was getting relatively close to the 80's, so red head-bands seemed reasonable by then.

It was getting relatively close to the 80’s, so red head-bands seemed reasonable by then.

Then again, this direction isn’t anything all that special because it’s basically the same, exact movie, just done again with more character development. This wasn’t something that bothered me as much but it didn’t really offer me up any surprises that much either. You could practically put this and the original back-to-back and not really notice a difference at all: Rocky starts off like a bum, then focuses on jobs, then focuses on Adrian, then gets ready for the big fight *cue training montage*, and then the big fight at the end. That’s pretty much the same formula done for both movies and it seemed like a lazy-job on Sly’s part, mainly because we all know what happens, and aren’t thrown many surprises or curve balls to take us off-guard.

It was also kind of a problem that I didn’t really feel any true tension or excitement going into the big rematch with Creed, I was sort of just like: “ehhhh”. The first movie, regardless as to whether or not you actually saw it when it first came out, was a movie that people were just hyping up and up and up for those last 15 minutes, all because of the big fight. Not only was it bloody, gruesome, and ultra-violent, but it was also very unpredictable as nobody had any clue whatsoever as to who the hell was going to pull this off in the end. However, it’s pretty obvious where Sly is going to go with this story, which makes it even more obvious as to who the winner is going to be. I get that you don’t see these types of flicks to see something terribly new or original, considering that it’s all been done before, but you gotta give me something to chew-on here, or I’m going to lose my leg. Don’t know what that is even supposed to mean, but just go with it for now.

As much as the movie’s final-bout may not be as invigorating or compelling as the first’s, it still helps the movie gain some much-needed steam and end in the sort of way we’d be happy to cheer on. The ending fight in the first flick was a lot better, but this one still stands on its own two feet with a lot of close-calls that actually kept me on-the-edge of my seat, even though it’s pretty obvious you know what’s going to happen. It’s a good fight and definitely brought a lot more energy to the end of the film, but it was almost a bit too late in the movie to play up. Then again, it was entertaining so I’ll give it that.

No matter what though, Sylvester Stallone is definitely the main reason to see this flick because he does everything he did as Rocky in the first movie, and adds a lot more sincerity and heart onto him here. Stallone is such a likable character that the whole 1 hour and 59 time-limit could have been dedicated to him just making corny jokes to Adrian and slurring every single sentence, which he does show a lot of that here, but once he starts to hit the emotional moments, it may actually take you by surprise. Stallone has never been a Oscar-caliber actor by any means, but he definitely shows that he has the chops to pull off plenty emotional moments and have you believe in him as his character learns more about life. But like the rest of the movie, you could pretty much say that about the first one, just with a few more added-elements.

Deja vu maybe?

Deja vu maybe?

As for the rest of the cast, they’re all fine and pretty much doing the same thing they were doing with the first, just a tad different this time-around. Just a tad, mind you. Talia Shire is great to watch as Adrian as her and Rocky inter-act with one another and figure-out ways to get their marriage to work. The two have good chemistry and shines through in almost every moment they share the screen. Carl Weathers bothered the heck out of me with the first one, but does a fine job here as he keeps that annoying, showmanship-thang going on, but still gets to the human-aspect of his character as well. Ain’t so bad once the guy dials it all down, I see. Burgess Meredith is yelling at Rocky again and having a ball doing so, and Burt Young is being a drunk d-bag, that beats-up his sister, makes d-bag jokes, and bothers the hell out of Rocky. The typical, Philadelphian-bum. Gotta love ’em.

Consensus: Rocky II has the same heart, look, feel, and entertainment from the original classic, but that’s just it: it’s practically the same movie. Yeah, it’s more character-based and features development of those said characters as they move-on with their lives, but it isn’t anything special when you take into consideration how land-mark and iconic the original was, where this just seems to cash-in on that name and love. Sadly, it would continue on for a couple more years, only to be deceased by Sly himself. Thank heavens for that.

6.5 / 10 =Rental!!

So. Many. Autographs!

Beautiful shot of the city I love, and a bunch of people running away from it. Oh, sweet, sweet Philadelphia.

Dredd 3D (2012)

Imagine if it was this guy beating Rodney King.

The story takes place in a violent, futuristic city named Mega City One where the police have the authority to act as judge, jury and executioner, a cop named Dredd (Karl Urban) teams with a trainee (Olivia Thirlby) to take down a gang that deals the reality-altering drug, SLO-MO (lead by Lena Headey).

Maybe I’m alone on this boat but I have never ever seen the 1995 Sylvester Stallone original, so I went into this flick with a pretty open-mind, expecting good, bloody things, even if the trailer didn’t do much for me. Now that I’ve seen this, I don’t even think I need to bother with the original. Sorry Sly! I gave you all of my money a month ago!

Another reason besides the trailer, as to why this film didn’t do much for me was because it’s directed by Pete Travis, aka the dude who did the political Groundhog Day, Vantage Point a couple of years back and we all know how that crap turned out. However, the guy actually brings out a certain type of fun, but controlled energy that it seems like this source material needed in the first-place. Since this is an R-rated action flick, you can expect all sorts of action, violence, blood, and guts shooting at the screen, (in fine 3D, may I add) but this time is used with a grittier edge. Actually, a very grittier edge as I don’t think I have ever really felt the need to take a shower from watching a movie in awhile but it adds to the whole look and feel of this flick.

You also can’t help but love how Travis seems like he knows his audience this time around and doesn’t ever seem to alienate them by giving them a cheesy subplot to flesh these characters out, or give them any heartfelt emotional breakthrough that doesn’t seemed deserved. No, the guy sticks straight to the violence and blood, and actually lets loose a couple of funny, but dead-pan one-liners hit you when you least expect it. Sometimes I even missed it because everybody in the theater that I was at with just started howling and I don’t know what happened there. As for all of the political themes that apparently translates from the comics themselves, I couldn’t really find much but you can tell that a lot of this talks about the world we may be fore-seeing due to high-levels of violence and crime running rampant throughout the streets. It’s pretty obvious, but not as heavy-handed as most movies, let alone action ones, that use the same premise and idea.

Where I think that this film sort of screwed itself up with was how the action never really came full-force for me. Yeah, there’s a bunch of cool scenes where people are getting their heads blown-up to pieces and a couple of sweet slo-mo scenes that look even cooler when somebody’s getting shot, but it all happens in a spread-apart fashion that sort of takes away the intensity that this film could have really had. It’s not a slow movie by any means, it just doesn’t really pick up the full head of steam that you thought it would and ends up being a film that follows the pattern of “short burst of action, follow plot. short burst of action, follow plot.” This goes on the whole film and even though I was never bored with it, I couldn’t help but wish they added more action to the mix.

Also, where the hell was that final, big shoot-out? Now, I’m no full-on lover of action movies but when I see an action movie that has such promise between two opposing forces like this one here, you think there’d be some final show-down where both go at it like no other. We do sort of get that, but it happens in a way that’s a bit anti-climactic to the point of where I was reminded of the last showdown in Gangs of New York, where there is all this set-up, all of this hype, and all of this suspense, and it ends up just doing nothing, really.

Despite the action, the plot also could have been a bit more wild and crazy, but also a bit more believable in it’s strange way. The reason I say this is because you’d think with all of the people that are going after Dredd and the rookie, that they would have a hell of a lot harder time getting to the top and killing Ma-Ma, but that’s not really the case. Somehow, someway, without giving too much away, they get to where they need to go pretty easily and it sort of ties into the whole action-element of this flick to where I felt like they really needed to give it an extra-dosage of extreme and wild action to make it all the more exciting. Still, this is a bit of nit-pick if I must say.

It was reported that Karl Urban had been wanting to play this character for the longest time, and 9 times out of 10, that usually means it’s going to be a passion project, by a certain star, that nobody else really shares the same passion with. That 1 time out of 10 is actually what we have here as Urban seems to have a lot of fun playing the straight-laced, vicious, dead-pan hero, Judge Dredd. Granted, Urban isn’t doing anything other than killing people, making serious one-liners, and talking with the same growl that Clint Eastwood had back in his glory days, but he owns it and makes this character a pretty kick-ass one that makes you know when he shows up, shit’s going to get fucked up for sure. It also helps that the costume is really, really cool.

Olivia Thirlby seemed like a strange choice to have in an action film, but she actually does a good job with it because I think that is her whole act here. She isn’t a sadistic and violent mofo like Dredd, instead, she’s a lot more compassionate towards her victims and likes to think about what’s right and what’s wrong with certain people and situations, which causes her and Dredd to actually create a cool chemistry. It was also cool to see this action flick have a chick as the villain here and Lena Headey does a marvelous job at playing the villain, a drug-lord named Ma-Ma, who is just as sadistic and violent as Dredd but instead, is on the opposite side of the law. Headey is good here because she doesn’t over-play the role and is a lot more subtle with it, using her scarred-look to convey some sick and evil ideas that could possibly be on her mind. Nothing spectacular, but at least it wasn’t over-the-top crazy like I was expecting from her, no offense ladies. Also, it was great to see Wood Harris have some juicy screen-time as one of Ma-Ma’s right-hand man that seems to be having a lot of fun with this material, as well. Been awhile since I’ve seen that guy in a prominent role and I’m glad to see him in one here.

Consensus: Though it doesn’t fully satisfy in terms of action, Dredd 3D is still a fun, bloody, and R-rated piece of entertainment that benefits from a gritty look and good performances from a strange, but well-cast group of stars.

7.5/10=Rental!!

The Expendables 2 (2012)

Finally, they got tired of the retirement home and decided to fight back.

Hot off their latest mission, Barney Ross (Sylvester Stallone) and his ragtag team of mercenaries are pulled right back in the game when Mr. Church (Bruce Willis) presents them with a new assignment. It should be easy—to travel to Albania and retrieve a briefcase carrying a blueprint of a plutonium mine. The villain named Vilain (Jean-Claude Van Damme), isn’t exactly quaking in his boots, but he probably should be. There is exactly no chance whatsoever Barney will allow him to escape with his life.

I know I’m going to catch a lot of hot water for this but I actually liked the first Expendables. I thought it had awesome action, an ensemble cast of action stars that I missed seeing on the big-screen, and provided me with enough laughs to even everything else out. Yeah, the story may have been terribly lame and the action wasn’t non-stop, but at least it was fun and that’s more than I can say about plenty other Summer, action blockbusters that came out in 2010. Thankfully, with more back-up and some new faces, this sequel does a whole lot better and keeps everything moving in just the right way.

Since being writer, director, producer, and the main star of the original one proved to be too much for him, Stallone decided to take it easy on this one and allow Simon West to take over the director duties and what a great decision that was! Going into this film, I wanted action, action, action, and well, more action, and that is exactly what I got from West’s direction. In the first 10 minutes of this flick, we get a huge, loud, and explosive set piece that shows the guys running around, shooting and killing people while dropping corny one-liners for fun and to be honest, it got me in the mood for what I was about to get for the rest of the movie. It was also a surprise to see a lot of wide shots used for the action as well as some nifty editing tricks to where we could actually the action as it happened.

There is a story to be had here, but in all honesty, who gives a shit about that when you got these guys! There’s a whole lot of mayhem to be seen here and everybody here takes total and complete advantage of that and makes this flick seem like it was a lot more deserved in the action department, than the first one. I wanted loud, insane, crazy, and intense action and for the most part, West delivered on that and sort of gave me the old-school action movie feeling I wanted with the first one but instead, only got here once he put his magical touch on it. It also helps that these guys seem like they’re all having the times of their lives making this movie, and you can’t help but feel the same exact thing and join in on the festivities. That’s all I wanted, and that’s all I got and for that, I am very thankful.

However, as fun and action-packed as this movie may have been, there were still some quibbles I had with it in that department. All of the action seemed to happen with just guns and explosives. We do actually get a couple of fist-fights here and there, but it seemed like they cheated out on that mainly because the guys are getting a little too old to be flying around, simulating beating the crap out of one another. I guess after Stallone broke his neck during filming in the first one, they decided to settle down on that aspect, but it still worked none the less despite all of my bitching.

You also can’t help but laugh unintentionally at this film at times, too. There is a story here so I guess I shouldn’t be complaining too much but where it was going, how it was going, and why it was going there all seemed a bit cheap for my tastes and it gets very sentimental at one part, for which I didn’t even really care about. Let me just say this without spoiling anything, a character gets killed off in the beginning and it’s pretty obvious and doesn’t make a difference one bit. It sort of just happens and we don’t care which is kind of a bummer considering these are characters and performers we should love and care about, especially when their lives may be in one degree of danger. That rarely happens in action movies like these but let’s just forget about those conventions and try to suspend reality for a bit.

The ensemble for the first flick was great, but this one, well, it’s even better where we finally get to see some of the most iconic and popular action stars in one, big, action orgy. It’s a pretty neat thing to see, especially when they are all at the top of their game as well. Sylvester Stallone does a great job as the core of the film, and still looks fit and clean to the point of where you could imagine him not only having the brains, but also the guns (both kinds of guns) to kick anybody’s ass; Jason Statham plays Jason Statham, and it’s probably the best type of role he can play out there and that’s all that matters to me; Dolph Lundgren was hilarious and steals probably half of the scenes he’s in just being the normal, goofy, Swedish dude we all know and sometimes love him for; Nan Yu brings some estrogen to the mix and does a fine job of holding her own when it comes to kicking ass and taking names; Bruce Willis and Arnold Schwarzenegger are all back for what seem to be extended cameos, but still get the chance to mow down some mothaeffa’s and sprinkle out some awesome one-liners that show them exactly why they were so requested for this movie; and let’s not forget about Chuck Norris. ‘Nuff said about that.

Everybody else that I didn’t mention is pretty much in the background but still does their own thing, which is good, but the real star of this whole cast is probably the ultimate return of Jean-Claude Van Damme in a major, action blockbuster. It’s been awhile since Van Damme has been in anything this big before and it’s a great return-t0-form for this dude because he still does all of the same awesome shit that we loved him for before. He’s still got the signature kicks in him, still oozes the charisma that makes him such a watchable presence in the first place, still is in great shape, and still can play somebody that we hate so damn much, but yet, we can’t get enough of. In my opinion, Van Damme stole the show for me and I hope that this gets his name out there once again and brings him back to the major, Hollywood blockbusters he at one point owned every time.

Consensus: While it doesn’t win any points in its character development, emotional story, or incredibly original writing, The Expendables 2 wins mucho points in providing plenty of kick-ass action, a look at some of the greatest action stars in the biz, and a fun time at the movie theaters that gives us one last bang for the Summer. Sucks to say it, but it’s just about over people and what a way to go out.

8/10=Matinee!!

The King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters (2007)

That’s it! I’m going to my local arcade and going to do something with my life!

This is a documentary that follows Steve Wiebe as he tries to take the world high score for the arcade game Donkey Kong from reigning champion Billy Mitchell. The catch is though, maybe Billy isn’t quite the champion we thought he was in the first place.

People reading this now, probably aren’t getting too crazy about seeing a documentary about a bunch of grown-ass men playing each other in video games, which is alright because not everybody loves video games. However, that’s what really made this connect with me because it appealed to me in a way that I never thought was imaginable.

A lot of the credit for this film has to be chalked up to director Seth Gordon‘s amazing skills of capturing everything as it happened here on tape. There isn’t any real manipulation here that we see in so many other documentaries, everything happens in a believable way mainly because of the people in this film are so goofy and out-there, that he couldn’t have written any of these characters in the first place. We get a lot of glimpses into this world of gaming where we see people lose sleep and their jobs over getting the world record for a video game and it’s very bizarre but it also carries a great amount of sincerity to it as well. Gordon doesn’t really take any cheap-shots as these gaming nerds and even when it seems like he is, he’s not really trying to do that since some of these dudes are able to make them look like asses themselves.

Take for instance, Billy Mitchell, aka the self-renowned king of Donkey Kong. This dude won the world-record for Donkey Kong all the way back in 1982 and hasn’t once shown up in a public area to play and defend his record. However, this still allows him to walk around like his shit don’t stick, find any manipulative, lame-ass way he can find to keep his record/legacy going, and talks about how “in order to prove you’re the best, you have to show up in public places to do so”, something that his jerky-ass does not do at all. This guy is a total dick and at-first, I didn’t think he was so bad of a dude until I realized just how much a little girl he would act whenever a challenge against his record would ever come up. Gordon doesn’t try his hardest to make this dude look bad, the dude looks like an asshole as it is and I think that’s one of the main reasons why this film works so well is because it gives us somebody to root against.

Oh and let me not forget to mention that the guy that we are given to root for is probably the most likable dude out there, named Steve Wiebe. This guy has more heart with video games than I think I could ever have with anything (yes, even this) and he shows it throughout this whole flick by traveling miles and miles to beat records in public places, showing the kindness and grace to all of the other fellow gamers that look down on him, and by the end of the day, still considering himself a dude who just likes to enjoy playing video games. He still somehow gets in second place every time though and it makes us root him on more just so we can see Mr. Mitchell look the horses ass that he truly is. Steve Wiebe, you are a man amongst men. Or at least a gamer amongst gamers everywhere.

These two different types of dudes also sets up an awesome rivalry along the lines of Rocky vs. Apollo Creed. We always hear these two guys talk about each other and talk about what they would do if they ever got to meet and play each other in real-life, and it really sets up a lot of tension for the whole flick. I don’t want to give anything away about how they meet and what happens when they meet, but what I will say is that I was on the edge of my seat throughout this whole flick and I don’t know how that it was even humanly possible. I mean I love video games (even though I haven’t played my XBOX 360 in almost two years), but this movie made me want to go back out there and put a couple of quarters in Pac-Man and try my luck of beating the high score, which is probably my dad’s score. That bastard.

If there is one complaint I have to say about this flick is that it is a little jumpy at the beginning. The film starts off with Billy Mitchell and his records, then goes on to tell the stories about the feuds he had with a couple of people, then tells the story of Steve, and then for some reason, goes back-and-forth between that and the history of the gaming association their apart of. Yes, they are all stories that deserved to be told but it was in too much of a sloppy way. However, this didn’t last long because if it did, it would have become a real nuisance after awhile.

Consensus: Even if you have never touched a video game in your entire life, you will love The King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters because it has a great story to it, gets an inside look at some very strange people (even though, I’m no cooler), and actually has a lot of tension to it where you feel like all hell is going to break loose between the professional and the under-dog at any second.

9/10=Definitely Watch It!!

Bellflower (2011)

Your typical story of boy-meets-girl, boy-loses-girl, boy-then-starts-lighting-everything-on-fire.

This is the story of Woodrow (Evan Glodell) who has a best-friend named Aiden (Tyler Dawson), and both get ready for an apocalypse to hit with their own flame-throwers, cool gang clothes, and cool revved up car named “Mother Medusa”. Woodrow also starts to fall in love with a girl named Milly (Jessie Wiseman), and that’s where the shit really starts to stir.

Right from the start of this flick we get this fun, mumble core-like, buddy comedy that seems like it’s a fun date movie because it’s all about hanging out with your bestie and finding that loved one. However, one of the main curve balls that we are thrown in this film, is that it all starts fade away pretty quickly and turn into something I was not expecting in the least bit.

The film may be advertised as two dudes prepping themselves for the apocalypse but it’s more about the anti-love story this film has as well. What starts off as cute and cuddly romance between two strangers that meet at a cock-roach eating contest, turns into something that hurts, causes sadness, causes pain, and most of all causes our main dude, Woodrow to go effin’ insane. The fact that this guy gets hurt so painfully and goes through the problems that he goes through, really seems believable. It was also totally refreshing to see a dude not just look at this as a “new-beginning” and be all happy-go-lucky about it all, and instead be pissed, angry, violent, and downright hurt by everything. These are how real people feel when somebody toys with their emotions and if there’s any reason why men/women should not do such a thing, is just because you never know if somebody will go off and light everything on fire.

This film starts out as sweet but then drops right into downright dark territory, and it didn’t bother me that the film felt like doing this because it seemed realistic. One minute love can have you flying all-over-the-place, happy as a bird, but then the next minute it can make you feel like the world blows and that you just want to hurt someone or something and the way this film shows that hurt feels genuine rather than just random. We feel for these characters early on in the flick so that when all of this evil ish starts to happen to them we feel something towards them and everything that’s going on. With every little plot-twist comes every little amount of honesty that is easy to relate to, even as devastating and crushing as some of it may be.

The one kudos to be given out for this film working out so perfectly goes towards director/writer/star Evan Glodell who made a film that cost almost $17,000 to make, and is something that he practically did all by himself. Everything you see in this film is thanks to him and when I mean everything, I do mean his one-of-a-kind camera. Glodell makes L.A. look like the dirtiest, most slimiest, and most raunchiest place to look at just by using this camera that he apparently invented from a whole bunch of other camera parts. This gives the film a distinct look with its saturated colors and overall dirty glow that fits well with the story, especially when the tone does a total 180 with everything going from good, to bad, and then to worse. I also have never watched a movie that made me want to literally pop into the story with a wash rag, soap, and a hose and just give these people some showers. I mean Christ almighty!

My one problem with this film may seem a little strange at first but it honestly cannot go unnoticed. Everybody in this flick has their own houses (shitty ones at that), buys their own brewskies, drives their own cool muscle cars, and even creates their own flame-throwers, so the one thing that kept going through my mind the whole time was when did any of these damn people actually work? It may sound strange that this was the main thing that really bothered me but honestly, these people would go about their day doing just about nothing but somehow buy all of this shit when you don’t see or even hear them talking about work and getting their pay-checks. 1970’s muscle cars and flame-throwers aren’t cheap so they definitely had to be getting their moolah somewhere.

A while back when I reviewed ‘Rocky’, I talked about Stallone’s performance and how I felt like I was watching a real-person up on-screen rather than just another character. Well the weird thing to say is that for some reason, Glodell’s performance as Woodrow feels like the Italian Stallion’s as well in a totally different and weirder way. Woodrow is this happy, smiley, shy, and lovable dude that seems like an endearing dude that doesn’t mean any harm, other than to just meet a girl of his dreams. However, when that dream turns into a nightmare, his descent into a total mad-man feels real as if Goldell isn’t even acting in the first place and that he was actually pissed off himself. This guy is a strong-ass character, without us ever really getting to know him all that well other than the fact that he’s hurt and is damn sad about everything, which makes it easier to root him on the whole time. This guy not only shows his talents behind the camera for the whole hour and 45 minutes, but also shows that he has a real talent in front as well.

Tyler Dawson is also a lot of fun to watch his big-buddy, Aiden, and shows a lot of great comedic timing that usually comes easily with these “happy-dude” roles. Jessie Wiseman also deserves a lot of love for her performance for the apple of Woodrow’s eye, Milly, who is downright charming and likable from the start but soon turns into this chick that we did not expect and it’s a real great showcase for Wiseman’s talents as an actress as she does a lot here that many actresses probably would have not been able to do genuinely enough. I think everybody involved with this film has a very bright future ahead of them and I hope that this one puts them on the map and gets them all more roles. I’ll be looking for them.

Consensus: Bellflower starts off with a happy, little fairytale of love that soon turns into a dark, twisted, and borderline evil nightmare that has a distinct look, a script that covers a lot of ground without ever losing its direction, and a genuine and relatable feel that will shock some while providing solace to others knowing that they aren’t the only ones who just want to blow everything up when their heart is broken. Evan Glodell is definitely a talent to watch.

9/10=Full Price!!

Rocky (1976)

This is why I’m proud to be a Philadelphian.

When world heavyweight boxing champ Apollo Creed (Carl Weathers) wants to give an unknown fighter a shot at the title as a publicity stunt, his handlers pick palooka Rocky Balboa (Sylvester Stallone), an uneducated collector for a Philadelphia loan shark. Rocky doesn’t have much going for himself, except his girl-friend Adrian (Talia Shire), until he starts to pick up some steam with this fight up ahead.

Whenever anybody thinks about ‘Rocky’, most just say that they love the first but the others really ruined its legacy. I don’t know where I stand because even though I appreciate all of them, except for ‘Rocky V’ because Tommy Gunn was a puss, I can’t fully remember the last time I actually watched them all. Now after seeing the first one, I want to go back.

The main reason why this film works so well and only gets better and better with age is because of one thing and one thing only: under-dog story. Americans, Canadians, Japanese, Chinese, Yellow, Orange, Periwinkle, basically all people love these kinds of stories because it’s like a fairy-tale that gives hope to anybody out there who thinks they can’t do something special, but when they look at a dude like Rocky, they realize they can.

Rocky is the perfect example of your average, every-day guy who one days gets his shot at being big and absolutely takes it. He’s not a superhero with a big red cape or a knight in shining armor on a horse, he’s just a dude who considers himself a “bum”, drinks 5 raw eggs in the morning for breakfast (tried it before and it tastes terrible), walks around Philly at night talking to everybody while throwing some jokes around, and goes down to the meat-shop to knock on some meat. Rocky is the everyman that we all love and care about and it’s so hard not to like him considering you could probably find a guy right down your street that’s just like him. Well, that is without the boxing career but then again you never know.

The direction from John G. Avildsen and the screenplay from Stallone himself just comes together perfectly almost like peanut butter and jelly. Avildsen is a guy who’s movies I haven’t really seen all that much of but he gives this fairly low-key approach that has a lot of grittiness and dark elements to it but it’s still entertaining as hell to watch, especially when you know where the hell Rocky is throughout the whole film. I’m not sure how he won Best Director that year because even though I thought it was a good direction, it wasn’t anything spell-binding like so many other films that year.

When it comes to the script though, then we have something to really talk about. Everything in this film seems like real people actually talking and even though there is the usual schmaltz and predictability to the whole approach, it still doesn’t feel like a cheat. There is a perfect mixture of drama, romance, humor, and sports that comes together perfectly where one moment you could really feel something for Rocky and these other characters, but then you could be laughing your ass off the next moment when Rocky is making jokes about not knowing how to talk to a door. It also helps that just about everything in this film is so damn memorable and the only reason why we see so much of the same shit used nowadays is because at the time, this was so original and I will definitely have to call you a liar if you say you didn’t feel like trying hit a boxing bag after watching that awesome training montage.

Speaking of Sylvester Stallone, it’s pretty obvious that his performance as Rocky is just about perfect considering it’s the one that should have given him the Oscar that year and basically kicked off his career, but it’s a lot better because of the finer details that lie within his portrayal. The script, as I have already stated, is perfect but that’s also a lot of thanks to Stallone for not hamming it up once as this total meat-head. Rocky is of course the dude that has bigger muscles than a brain, but he’s still a lovable guy that jokes around with everyone and with Stallone, what you see is just about what you get from him. The whole time I could feel like Stallone was just being himself, almost as if everything was improvised because when he’s emotional, it’s not corny or overly sentimental, and when he’s just talking out of his ass, it feels like he’s saying whatever hits him first. It all works and I also have to give a lot of props to Stallone considering half of the shit he does here when it comes to training, I could have never done. Except for the claps in between one-handed push-ups, I do them every morning I wake up…

Let’s also not forget the rest of the cast of characters that easily made this film lovely no matter where the story went. Talia Shire is great as Rocky’s man squeeze, Adrian, and the scenes her and Rocky have (especially the ice-rink scene) all feel real and genuine; Burgess Meredith is awesome as Rocky’s trainer, Micky, and is an absolute riot just about every time he’s up on screen; and Burt Young is great as the worst best friend in the world, Paulie. The one performance I was surprised that really annoyed me was actually Carl Weathers as Apollo Creed. I don’t know why but I just felt like this guy was trying so hard to be Muhammed Ali impersonator that it just got annoying after awhile but then again when you have a cocky, black world-heavyweight champion of boxing, it’s hard to not act like one of “the greatest”.

Consensus: Rocky is a perfect film for anybody who ever believes that they have what it takes because of it’s perfect screenplay, genuine performances from everybody involved, and just the overall good and happy feeling that this film will give you once you start to here Rocky yelling out “ADRIAAAAAN!”.

9.5/10=Full Price!!

Happy New Year’s Everybody!!

Antz (1998)

Now I’m going to leave a lot more crumbs on the ground now.

So, here we go again! Another great day and week at Boomtron! Go over and check this one out, let me know how you feel, and basically just give me some love like all you homies did on the last one.

Click on the link here:

http://www.boomtron.com/2011/08/antz-movie-review/

Feedback is much appreciated! Thanks everybody! Enjoy your Tuesday!

Tango & Cash (1989)

If these two were actual cops in real life, the world would be a safer place.

When Ray Tango (Sylvester Stallone) and Gabe Cash (Kurt Russell) are framed and wind up in prison, they’re tortured by the thugs of the drug lord who put them there. But watch out — the partners are sure to escape and exact revenge.

The 80’s was a special time for big-budget, action comedies like this. And for two stars of this genre to be in one movie, is a dream come true for any huge fan of this genre.

For me, I’m not a huge lover on this genre, but I will watch some movies that are like that, just for a good time and to enjoy myself. This film has a lot of that fun to enjoy yourself. The action is comes at you right away, and doesn’t really stop coming. There are loud explosions, guns blasting, people dying, punches, kicks, and this all equals up to you having fun.

However, this script is sosososo dumb. It tries way too hard to be cool, hip, and funny so they just keep on bringing cheesy one-liners to this film. Some one-liners work, others don’t but the fact of the matter is, is that they use too many for the sake of being funny, and by doing that, just make it annoying and less funny.

I did like seeing Stallone and Russell paired together as the opposites-attract, buddy pair. They both play well off each other, and actually make a lot of the bad lines, better cause of their machoness, as well as their comedic timing. They also both play riffs on characters they have played in the past, and that actually works cause who doesn’t like seeing some major film figures make fun of themselves? Exactly. Also, who doesn’t want to watch Jack Palance as the main bad guy, delivering lines so bad, that they would make

Consensus: Tango & Cash tries too hard to be cool, and funny, but fails at doing so, instead is a fun, action comedy, with two of the best action stars playing off each other well. Put this in the “so bad, it’s good” category.

5/10=Rental!!

The Expendables (2010)

It’s like a family reunion, except with more explosions, and steroids.

Barney (Sylvester Stallone) leads a ragtag band of hired guns charged with overthrowing a South American despot, a job no official military unit is willing to touch. But once on the ground, the team learns there’s more to the mission than they were told. Their next move determines whether they survive — or are, indeed, expendable.

Ever since I heard of this films first being talked about last year, I was instantly already pumped for this to actually come out. I was a big fan of the action films, that took over the 80’s and early 90’s, and seeing all my favorites on the big screen, is like my fantasy (no homo).

The film’s plot is how should I say, just terrible. There is plenty of plot holes that doesn’t quite explain a whole lot about the story, and it does not make any sense as it goes on even longer. Also, the screenplay isn’t terribly written but at times it does feel a bit lazy. The jokes are some what funny, but the film tries to be dramatic at times, and it doesn’t work, and is just pretty weak.

But that’s not what this film is all about, it’s all about guns, killing people, explosions, knives, shootings, more explosions, and by the end of it all, laughing it all off, and having a good time. For the most part, the action was awesome. There was defiantly plenty of action to satisfy all action lovers needs, but I just wish there was more than what I was given. The beginning, and the final 35 minutes deliver on the action very well, but I can’t quite say the same for the middle parts. Overall, the action was great to watch, and for once I could actually see what was going on, instead of having to be totally confused, because of the constant swerving of the camera.

The ensemble cast had me first interested because it has all of my favorites from the era of those action films, as well as some other ones. However, it doesn’t use all of them to their full potential, instead the film is more focused on Sylvester Stallone, Jason Statham, and Jet Li, while everybody else is sort of just side characters for the story. However, all three are good and bring a lot to the screen, and when their not killing people, they have great times on screen together. Others in the cast that are good when their on screen is, Terry Crews, Mickey Rourke, Randy Couture, Dolph Lundgren, and Stone Cold Steve Austin. The main villain here is portrayed by Eric Roberts, who I think knows that he shouldn’t be taken seriously, cause I really couldn’t with this film as a bad guy, but if that was the type of performance he was channeling, than he does a great job with it. There are also two good cameos from Bruce Willis, and the guy that hasn’t been around forever, that’s right bitches, the Governator, Arnold Schwarzenegger. It isn’t the greatest cameo ever in the world of cinema, but it’s always good to see a long lost action hero, back on screen.

Consensus: The Expendables, may have a bad plot, and problems with its script, but it does provide plenty of the action it promised, and the cast still does provide plenty of fun for everybody.

7/10=Rental!!!

Cliffhanger (1993)

My fear of heights would never give me this job.

A year after losing his friend in a tragic 4,000-foot fall, former ranger Gabe Walker (Sylvester Stallone) and his partner, Hal (Michael Rooker), are called to return to the same peak to rescue a group of stranded climbers, only to learn the climbers are actually thieving hijackers.

As usual with any of the Stallone action vehicle’s there is no story here, other than this guy saves people off cliffs and ends up in some drug bust, and a bunch of bad people looking for all this money. It’s not a very original story to say the least, but it does have some good to it.

The film is all about the special effects and stunts that go down in this movie. The scenes with Stallone about 200 feet in the air dangling from just a wire are jaw-dropping, and will leave you on the edge of your seat. Also, not to forget the scenery of this ice cold mountain and how almost every time you have to watch your step or you just may fall many feet to your death.

The action is fun and exciting I’ll give it that and is one of the better action flicks from Stallone. There is a lot of nice action, that’s surprisingly bloody and in your face many of the times, especially these slow-mo shots of people getting killed are very nice to look at and also very disturbing.

Stallone tries to play more of a sensitive, human character but most of his dialogue is of the dirt-kicking, “Nobody understands me” elementary school variety. Similarly, Sly presents himself as more of an everyman who isn’t invulnerable – so he gets the shit kicked out of him way more than you’d expect for Stallone. But then he has these moments of almost superhuman feats, like when he sleds down a mountain on some dude’s BODY, hangs out under icy water without a shirt on, and impales a bad guy on a friggin’ stalactite! Well needless to say John Lithgow is not a very believable villain, and many times throughout the film I found myself laughing every time he talked cause I just couldn’t take him seriously as this sinister cold-blooded killer.

Consensus: Not yout typical horrible Stallone action flick, Cliffhanger has some jaw-dropping visuals mixed with exciting action, but still has its writing flaws and a not so relivable villain, but still a nice popcorn flick.

5.5/10=Rental!!!

Cop Land (1997)

I highly doubt any of these guys would be cops at all.

When a local patrolman is implicated in a controversial shooting in a small New Jersey town, put-upon sheriff Freddy Heflin teams up with Lt. Moe Tilden (Robert De Niro) to investigate a connection between the mob and the NYPD officers who live in the town. Sylvester Stallone delivers a dramatic performance in this arresting crime thriller as Freddy. Harvey Keitel and Ray Liotta also star.

Cop Land is a cop drama that is filled with a lot of those cliches that always rid every single cop film like this. The us vs them mentality, dirty cops, and most of all down-on-his luck cop. I mean I have seen this story plenty and plenty of times, and I just wish a bit more was added on to this film to make its story seem more and more fresh.

But the real reason for seeing this film is its rich plot. The story has plenty of twists and turns that actually keep you interested. The film doesn’t try to act like Goodfellas or The Godfather with its mob tie-ins, it more of acts like itself with some really nice set-up suspenseful scenes.

I liked how the film didn’t just try to show one story and just leave it at that. No, it had all these three exciting stories all having to do something with crime and justice, and putting them all together at the end. It actually felt like three NYPD Blues episodes put into one long film but it didn’t feel like a TV show and actually had a lot of depth added to it.

Sylvester Stallone totally gets rid of his macho action star look that he has done for so long in this rare but effective dramatic role. He gives this down-and-out cop we have seen time and time again, but adds an extra dimension to this character as we understand who he used to be and who he is now. The only problem I had with this huge ensemble cast is that not all of them were quite used as well as Stallone. I mean each does get a considerable amount of screen-time, but they aren’t as focused on as Stallone and I would have liked to see more of these characters lives instead of just one part of them.

The problem with this film by the end actually kind of killed the momentum it had going for it. I think the ending as predictable as it was, should have been made in a different far more realistic way. I mean its very very sappy, and doesn’t quite feel right in the film.

Consensus: Cop Land has its obvious cliches and bad ending, but features a fun and interesting story, backed by an effective dramatic performance from Stallone, but not enough time was given to the others in my opinion.

7.5/10=Rental!!