Friday, March 29, 2013

Derp Blog Into Darkness #14: MURIEL’S WEDDING

In Derp Blog Into Darkness, I take a plunge into the deep with movies I’ve never seen or (in some cases) never even heard of, with the only common thread throughout being that they were purchased by my partner in the years after the break with her religious upbringing. This gives me a range from mainstream comfort food to more daring, “rebellious” stuff.

Look at that goddamned DVD cover. Happy ass bride, wedding in the title, pink and white title font. Surely any rational adult can vaguely extrapolate what will happen in this movie, right? I say thee nay, Midgardian! Make no mistake: MURIEL’S WEDDING is a dark ass movie.

Future SIXTH SENSE mom and SHAFT murder witness Toni Collette plays Muriel Hislop, daughter of a small-town Australian entrepreneur. Muriel doesn’t really have much of a life. Her room is plastered with cut-out brides and dresses, and she listens to Abba’s greatest hits pretty much on a loop. She has nominal “friends” whom she just kind of stands around as they blather on vapidly. Muriel has no job, but that’s actually not too uncommon in the Hislop household, with a mother who seems constantly lost in her own little world and four other siblings who do nothing but hang around and smoke cigarettes. Her middle sister has a repeated catchphrase throughout the movie, “Muriel… you’re terrible!” The first time we hear it, we assume she means that Muriel’s been naughty, but as it keeps coming back, it really hammers home that everyone thinks Muriel is basically the worst. She’s sort of a female Jerry from Parks & Recreation, if you will.

One day Muriel’s friends decide she is just too much of a drag and tell her to fuck off. Her presence is not wanted anymore as she is fat and lame and listens to 70s music rather than cool 90s music like the Baby Animals. The Vapettes go on a holiday to Hibiscus Island*, the original honeymoon destination of Vapirella #1, whose husband has just orally cuckolded her. Coincidentally, Muriel’s dad Bill hooks her up with a blank check to go deck herself out with decent clothes for a new job he’s also hooked her up with. Instead, the vengeance-crazed yet not very focused Muriel decides to go to Hibiscus Island as well. There, she meets high school classmate Rhonda. They become fast friends, fuck with the Vapettes some more, and eventually even move in together in Sidney somewhere. For the first time in her life, Muriel (who renames herself Mariel) is happy and fulfilled. She has a job at a video store and even goes on dates! I’m not entirely sure, but I think the movie implies that this woman in her mid 20s has never dated before.

So why is it even called MURIEL’S WEDDING? She gonna find Mr. Right and have a big ass wedding or what? Not exactly! As Muriel herself says “Someone wants to date me! That means I’m a better person than I used to be! If I find someone who’ll marry me, that’ll mean I’ll finally be another person. A new person! Not Muriel!”. Muriel has no specific dreamboat she wants to land; She just sees marriage as this symbolic ritual of elevation, this acknowledgement that she’s just as good as anyone else. But, you know, you can’t really sell a movie called MURIEL’S EMANCIPATION to as wide a market as you could MURIEL’S WEDDING. A wedding actually does happen eventually, but it’s so incredibly pragmatic it’s almost like Muriel went to get her driver’s license. I’ll not spoil what happens, since I actually think this movie is worth watching and you already know enough as is.

I’m selling this movie as some sort of miserable ass drama, and while it’s true that I was on the verge of tears a few times, it’s also laugh-out-loud funny. Bill takes a bunch of Japanese businessmen to a Chinese restaurant and keeps trying to impress them with how much he loves THU CULTCHA, and there’s at least two jokes at the expense of a paraplegic character that had me do my best insensitive Michael Bay belly laugh.

As you may have guessed, both the humor and drama are derived from small people with small, petty goals and ambitions. It’s fucking amazing to me that writer/director PJ Hogan went to Hollywood after this and they gave him MY BEST FRIEND’S WEDDING because, you know, ‘s got wedding in it, right? I do recommend his excellent 2003 PETER PAN adaptation with Jason Isaacs as Hook.

I seriously thought this was a fantastic tragicomedy. To anyone who’s ever felt small and insignificant, I would recommend MURIEL’S WEDDING heartily. And, surely, that means everyone?**

 

*Link! Go to Hibiscus Island!

**okay not Will Smith

Not conceited! He’s as good as he says he is!

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Derp Blog Into Darkness #13: IGOR

In Derp Blog Into Darkness, I take a plunge into the deep with movies I’ve never seen or (in some cases) even heard of, with the only common thread throughout being that they were purchased by my partner in the years after the break with her religious upbringing. This gives me a range from mainstream comfort food to more daring, “rebellious” stuff.

One of the things you learn as a young pop culture aficionado growing up, is that it’s the people behind the scenes who are worth following. You may like strawberries, but there’s no reason to get excited about them unless you know what exactly is going to happen to them in the kitchen before they are served to you.

I asked Ella what made her blind-buy IGOR, a film she deemed not necessary to rewatch along with me – something that has not happened often in this series so far. Her answer was simply “I like John Cusack”, which, coupled with the last movie she deigned not to rewatch (HIGH FIDELITY) probably soured her on Cusack for a while.

IGOR is the low budget tale of a young hunchback who wants nothing more than to be an evil scientist. In the land of Malaria, evil science reigns supreme after the several crops failed and the king decided to focus on blackmailing the rest of the world by putting all the moenies towards evil science.

Hunchbacks are forced to go to IGOR school because of the hunch on their backs. Yeah, Igor seems to be an actual job description in Malaria, as in “I’ll have my IGOR handle that!”. I’ll admit I got a good chuckle out of Igor saying he got his “Yes Master”’s degree.

Our Cusack-Igor is the assistant to Dr. Glickenstein (John Cleese) and has been experimenting on the side. No, not making out with other Igors, but inventing and stuff! He made Scamper (Steve Buscemi), an immortal bunny who unfortunately hates life, and Brian (Sean Hayes), a really dumb brain in a jar hooked up to some robot parts. Scamper and Brian are actually quite funny in their bleakness and stupidity, respectively. I couldn’t believe the bit where Scamper gets his brains blown out on-screen and he regrows them as the camera travels through entry and exit wound. It was an accident though, cuz I’m sure they never would have allowed a bunny to blow his brains out in a mainstream kids movie. Still, pretty shocking!

When Dr. Glickenstein accidentally offs himself during one of his many failed experiments, Igor sees his chance to enter the annual Evil Science Fair with a mind-blowing invention that will show the citizens of Malaria hunchbacks can do more than be lackeys!

He makes a big tank of a woman whom he intends to be a new breed of Malarian supersoldier, but he just can’t quite get her to be evil. In the meantime, Eurotrashy Dr. Schadenfreude (Eddie Izzard) has set his sights on “Eva” as the invention he will steal this year, since he is actually naught but a dandy who somehow keeps winning the Evil Science Award every year.

IGOR is quite a funny movie, I thought. Its humor balances quite well on the edge of gross/dark without ever being tasteless. What really brings it down, is how fucking CHEAP it looks. It’s incredible to me that this wasn’t a DTV cartoon. Okay, it looks better than one of the pre-movie trailers the DVD advertised:

Yes, that’s Elliot Gould as GOD

Gotta love how they drop the words PRINCE OF EGYPT in the trailer. Anywho, IGOR! It’s funny, but it’s pretty badly animated also! I’m not an animator or artist of any kind, so I can’t quite tell you what exactly went wrong but I’ll tell you ONE THING that went wrong, and it’s the same as HOODWINKED: Stop blowing all your money on celebrity voices! Avatar doesn’t, and everybody loves that!

Now I’m sad cuz there’s no release date for the next book of Korra yet. Man, fuck you IGOR!

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Born of NOPE

Fanfilms! I’m not a (hort hort) fan! I’m of the opinion that if you want to tell a story, you might as well make it an original one. It’s one thing to write fanfiction, since that’s essentially just you in your room tapping away at the keyboard, bothering nobody. But fanfilm! Hoo boy, fanfilm! Now you’re getting a lot of people in on your wanking, aren’t you? A looootta people are gonna have to get up at 5am and drag around props to make yourself feel good. Consider that, fanfilm makers! Consider that, young and hopeful actors who agreed to star as sexy SWAT team members in a grim ‘n gritty Sonic the Hedgehog adventure!

Well, anyway, BORN OF HOPE! This YouTube exclusive fanfilm is being screened at this year’s 9 Worlds Geekfest in London. Fans of this blog who are in attendance will have the delightful experience of meeting ME as I scrape gum off the screening room floor! As the con’s spirit is inclusion and equality (hey, there’s a brony track, so you know they’re serious about it), I decided to give this a whirl, as I’ll probably not be able to catch many of the films that will be played. Ever eager to expand my horizons, I thought perhaps this LotR fanfilm would turn me around on the whole concept. Did it? Here’s your chance to check it out, since it’s free on YouTube anywho!

Travel into the heart of darkness yourself!

Did you click it? Did you watch it? What did you think? Hmm? Hmmm? If you didn’t, here’s a short synopsis:

BORN OF HOPE is the story of Arathorn and Gilraen, parents to future king Aragorn. Their meeting, courtship and the fateful end to their union is told against a backdrop of a world not quite diminished, but getting there. Orcs roam the lands in search of the heir of Isildur, determined to break the line of Kings.

It’s not MUCH plot, but if you haven’t seen LOTR (and paid close attention), it’s probably all gibberish to you already. And that’s really one of the biggest drawbacks of a project like this; You’re basically admitting from the get-go that this is ONLY for fans. It’s not hard to have a VO state that “evil forces killed the king, but they were on the hunt for his heir, who lived in secrecy” yadda yadda. Okay, that’s pretty artless and a direct lift from the Jackson movies, but GUESS WHAT – they’re doing it already anyway. A breathy, whispery lady voice informs us of the comings and goings of Arathorn every other scene. And, you know, it’s not always very necessary! “And so Arathorn set off to…” while the previous scene pretty much explained where he was setting off to. It’s all a desperate attempt to pretty much ape the Jackson films. I mean, shit, even the title font is the same. The music is doing its darnedest to be an Asylum version of Howard Shore. Oh, and you know that thing Jackson totally gets mocked for, that super emotional slow motion accompanied by a heavenly soprano he trots out a bunch of times during EXXXTRA dramatic fight scenes? Try EVERY fight scene. Arathorn gets fucking introduced via slo mo soprano fight scene. It’s hopelessly melodramatic to the point where you can do nothing but giggle when they trot it out once again.

Arathorn and his buddy rangers (one of whom a Super Cute Girl Ranger) save Gilraen and her family from an orc ambush. They were carting off Gilraen’s brother’s corpse… somewhere. Orcs killed him, cuz orcs do that! In one of the few pretty cool moments of the film, one of the slain orcs is shown to have a bag of fingers on him. The heir of Isildur, you see, is known by wearing the Ring of Barahir, so the orcs had just been cutting off ringed fingers willy nilly to show to Boss Orc, who had access to Wikipedia. Now, SCGR has been in love with Arathorn for quite a while, but he is oblivious as a young Charles Xavier. He even says YOU ARE LIKE A SISTER TO ME at one point because why not! The actor who plays Arathorn is, however, this affable looking goofball, so I couldn’t hold it against him. I’m not too aware of Tolkien lore, so I don’t know if SCGR is canon or fanon. I’m going to err on the side of fanon, because besides being WAY CUTER than Gilraen she also knew him for like way longer and was by his side since like FOREVER. I wonder what will happen to SCGR by the end of this movie…

It’s useless to harp on the movie’s looks, right? I mean, I completely respect that they scraped together the budget for this and actually put the work in and all that, so let’s not harp on the fact that the troll doesn’t quite look like the one in Moria. The costuming looks straight out of your run-of-the-mill LARP shop, and the jewelry (even the pieces that actually feature in the films, such as the all-important Ring of Barahir) looks like it would be worn by old ladies at a fortune telling/spiritual/paranormal convention. But the one part where I couldn’t help but straight up guffaw was at the beautifully pastoral wedding of the royal couple, where everyone prances about in full-on renn fair mode to happy fiddles, and the wide shots of the Dunedain camp reveal just how, uh, frugal they live.

poorfuckinguy

If anything, BORN OF HOPE made me appreciate what a tonal tightrope the LOTR movies walk. They’re so earnest and, let’s face it, pretty cheesy, but Jackson & crew make it work. Again, I’m fully aware what difference a gazillion dollar makes, but let’s not forget the importance of humor and well-staged action. I want to say that the portentous LONGING and whispered intensities of Arathorn and Gilraen make it feel like a TWILIGHT for Middle-earth (let alone the fact that there’s a friend-zoned third party), but with the added amateurishness of the visuals it feels more like a porno where nobody ever gets down to business.

But here is my favorite thing about this movie. SPOILERS AHEAD but seriously who gives a shit

So SUPER CUTE RANGER GIRL? She dies protecting Baby Aragorn, giving a knock-off Boromir speech in Arathorn’s arms, finally able to proclaim her love. Such tragedy! By far the cutest girl in the movie! Super loyal to Arathorn! Never appreciated! Gives her life to ensure his happiness! Oh, cruel (middle) world!

Then later, during the credits, which have pencil drawings of the main cast* just like in You-Know-Which-Movie, SCGR’s actress’ name comes up. Kate Madison. The director.

ooooooohohohohohohohoho

Fanfilms, I’m glad you make some people happy!

*Baby Aragorn has a hilariously unflattering portrait.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Lollest Common Denominator v5: RESIDENT EVIL – RETRIBUTION

Resident-Evil-Retribution_Cinema_4892

Don’t trust that poster! Evil doesn’t really go global in this movie! It does sorta, I guess, but in that same way that the It’s A Small World ride takes you to Hawaii and the Congo. But more on that later! We start with a good five minutes of Umbrella slaughtering AFTERLIFE’s jammy people, played out in reverse. It’s a really cool scene, actually, helped by tomandandy’s sort of synth-Morricone sounding score. I swear they went to the trouble of composing some sort of theme for Alice, and it’s no shit pretty rousing!

This time they take the effort of actually recapping most of the previous 4 movies (but hilariously omitting most of 2 for reasons), and I couldn’t help but feel a little involvement. I’ve been watching these movies over a week or two and yes, while I’ve mostly been laughing at how silly everything was, the series has gotten under my skin ever so slightly. Everything’s just so straight-facedly dopey I can’t help but like it! After a five minute fake-out scene in which Anderson shows us that he’s a big fan of Zack Snyder’s version of DAWN OF THE DEAD, Alice wakes up in an Umbrella facility. Anderson also liked THX-1138! Jill Valentine interrogates her with the occasional question, followed by loud screechy noises. Alice is in the paper sandwich board again, which is as much a series staple by now as zombie dogs*.

But somebody hacks into the Umbrella security system and gives her a two minute window to escape the interrogation room and put on an S&M suit! When she comes to the control room, all the poor tech guys have been shot (despite previous movies showing us that Umbrella IT guys are very well armed!). This is the fault of one Ada Wong (played by the fantastically named Li Bingbing), who was sent here by her mysterious benefactor. A monitor crackles, and the static recedes to reveal none other than… Albert Wesker!

Explosion-proof Wesker informs Alice that Ada works for him, and he has a strike team coming to extract them both. The Red Queen (you know, that crappily rendered little-girl-shaped AI from the first movie?) has taken over the Umbrella corporation and wants to destroy all human life on Earth! For reasons!

So the movie is basically Alice and Ada meeting up with the extraction team as they journey through Umbrella’s huge VR DOME TESTING FACILITIES. It’s basically a more expensive remake of the first one, but with a lot of simulated environments like Tokyo and Moscow and NY and (lawl) Suburbia. In the Suburbiadome Alice finds deaf little Becky, the daughter of one of her clones in one of many, many zombie outbreak scenarios the Red Queen keeps running even though shit is pretty much past that in the real world. Becky triggers all of Alice’s RIPLEY impulses so when a Tongue Monster from the first movie abducts her, you know she’s gonna go after her!

The extraction team is a bunch of fan service video game guys (Leon S. Kennedy and Barry Burton, the latter played by the incomparable Kevin Durand) + AFTERLIFE survivor Luther Basketball and also two nobodies. If you don’t know which two die first, you are not good at movies! How Wesker got a hold of Luther Basketball or why he’d even bother sending him, I don’t know. But who can really understand the motivations of such a man as Albert Wesker. He’s gone upriver long ago, into that wire-frame model of the night of first ages. We are used to gazing upon the shackled form of a conquered Nemesis, but in Wesker we saw something monstrous and free.

Michelle Rodriguez gets second credit, but it’s such a weird role. She plays two clones, one good, one bad. The good one’s basically a by-stander until she gets randomly killed by Tongue Monster. Bad Michelle is just a mindless henchwoman to Jill Valentine (who herself is a titspider slave of the Red Queen) who ultimately gets infected with LAS PLAGASSSS

Las Plagas is a thing from the games, I know, but it’s barely explained in the movie. It’s little bugs? That make zombies clever enough to use guns and drive vehicles? But it makes living people indestructible? Okay, I guess! PROMETHEUS is so jealous of RESIDENT EVIL, I’ll bet. Why do THEY get to have nonsensical stuff and I get bashed for it! You don’t have nudity, gore and an 80 minute runtime, PROMETHEUS! Now go back to that part of my brain that is designated FORG--

RETRIBUTION is a bit of a letdown because of the absence of a strong (or, well, campy) villain like Wesker or Dr. Isaacs. The Red Queen isn’t interesting enough as a threat, and her underlings are just stormtroopers, even if they’re played by Michelle Rodriguez, Oded Fehr and FASCINATING ACTOR Colin Salmon whom liberal guilt nerds were suggesting as the next Bond for five seconds. I’ll give Jill Valentine this, though, she’s so bad that almost every line is worth a good guffaw. Between her, Ada Wong, and the reverse opening, it’s almost as if Anderson is going for some sort of “retard Kubrick” vibe in terms of emotional distancing. The movie looks so slick and antiseptic that I’m half-convinced Anderson is trying to make a movie that genuinely feels like him mashing action figures together in a big toybox.

The action scenes are pretty much better than ever, and quite varied in content. There’s the boat massacre, a zombie car chase (!), a hallway fight with Alice vs. half the zombified Akihabara district and plenty more. They’re all very exciting and stylishly executed and what-have-you. And, you know, this movie’s cliffhanger had me lawlin’ and pumped to go see the 6th (!) one in theaters. Alice team-up with President Wesker and the Resident Evil All-Stars vs. Zombie Helm’s Deep and also dragons? I’m there!

I hope you enjoyed this journey through the lowest common denominator drivel that is the RESIDENT EVIL series. I certainly have! What about you, have you seen them all? Are you a lifelong fan or would you never stoop to such trash? Are you perhaps a disgruntled CapCom fan who eagerly awaits the day they reboot this son of a bitch with Chris Redfield/Jill Valentine stuck in a mansion in the ARKLAY mountains? Whoa, I thought you guys didn’t exist anymore!

*no zombie dogs in this movie

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Derp Blog Into Darkness #12: AN IDEAL HUSBAND

In Derp Blog Into Darkness, I take a plunge into the deep with movies I’ve never seen or (in some cases) even heard of, with the only common thread throughout being that they were purchased by my partner in the years after the break with her religious upbringing. This gives me a range from mainstream comfort food to more daring, “rebellious” stuff.

anidealhusband

Sometimes a movie just does its job and disappears into the night, not unlike a Victorian frippoon* as portrayed by Rupert Everett in that selfsame movie.

Everett plays Lord Arthur Goring, the titular ideal husband/dandy, whose source of income seems to be professional smugness. His friend Robert (Jeremy Northam) is an MP who is married to Gertrude (Cate Blanchett), a seemingly perfect woman. His sister Mabel (Minnie Driver) is also present. Their world is shaken up by the arrival of Mrs. Chevesley (Julianne Moore), who tries to blackmail Robert into supporting the digging of a canal someplace far off that she’s thrown a lot of money at. What’s she got on Robert? Well shit, he used to be poor and made his money stelling state secrets to a seedy Baron (Jeroen Krabbé). The real crux of the movie is about misunderstandings and the avoidance of public embarrassment. They kinda gloss over the fact that selling state secrets was probably a hangable offense! But I kinda liked that! Here’s a movie about fancy people being witty. One of them committed a capital offense. Shit, that could be EMBARRASSING if it came out! Let’s clumsily trip all over each other and make double entendres until it goes away!

Minnie Driver and Cate Blanchett are really pleasant surprises in this movie. They both register in my brain as “good actresses”, but they were very funny. Especially Blanchett, whose biggest claim to fame is playing ice queens (with or without pointy ears), gets to let loose something fierce in stumbling for words and coming up with lies on the spot, to the point where she might as well have said herpaderp near the finale.

AN IDEAL HUSBAND is an adaptation of the Oscar Wilde play in the tradition of so many a BBC/Miramax/Pathé production, namely “Get good source material. Get good actors. Borrow fancy dresses. Point camera. Shoot.” And hey, it’s good! I’m not gonna begrudge anyone a wealth of good material. This isn’t a fucking Kevin Smith movie where the camera gets plonked down to look at 30 something fast food employees discussing the merits of STAR WARS vs. LORD OF THE RINGS.

It’s a pleasant movie that doesn’t try especially hard, but it doesn’t need to. It gets by. I guess you could say AN IDEAL HUSBAND is what Marvel hoped IRON MAN 2 would be. Oh, and it hilariously ends on a freeze-frame + fade out, followed by a PREDATOR style credit sequence whith all the characters winkin’ and smilin’ at the camera while the actor’s name appears under their face.

RANDOM OBSERVATION: There’s a weird ass scene where Driver and Blanchett seem to be cosplaying as Greek action heroines while conversing about the plot. A special treat for cosplay and randomness enthusiasts out there!

*Thank you, C.S. Lewis, for introducing the word “frippoon” into my life. Here endeth thy worth.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Lollest Common Denominator v4: RESIDENT EVIL –AFTERLIFE

After a near decade of absence from the director’s chair, Paul W.S. Anderson returns to his baby with RESIDENT EVIL: AFTERLIFE. Expectations were high after the upwards curve that 2 and 3 represented in his absence, so this was pretty exciting! For… probably… this one person blogging about these movies years after the fact. I mean yeah, I was curious. Look, if you’re reading this, so are you probably. What? Screw you, buddy! Let’s talk about the fourth RESIDENT EVIL movie!

resident-evil-afterlife-poster-milla-jovovich-01

Finally this series got to 3Din’! And if any series deserves that retardation, it’s this one. We pick up right where we left off, with the army of Alices storming Umbrella’s Tokyo HQ. No wait, actually Alice gives us a VO of how the world went to shit because of Umbrella’s T-virus outbreak. That’s all good and well, but I think most audiences not up to speed with RE LORE would more readily accept a post-apolyptic zombie world as a general sci-fi action setting than they’d just say okay to the hundredfold heroine. “Yeah okay there’s a hundred of this chick but WHOA why are there zombies???”

Albert Wesker has been recast! The new guy is absolutely hilarious and I wouldn’t mind seeing Mr. Shawn Roberts in more movies.

When contact starts to break off with different sniper sentries, the Umbrella HQ tech guys start getting worried. They don’t know how worried they should be getting, however! This ain’t just zombies, it’s a shitload of Alices! As the different Alices slaughter Umbrella goons by the dozens whilst throwing shit at the screen, one of the IT guys gets slightly nervous, which causes Wesker to shoot him in the head mid-sentence. Wesker don’t fuck around! He’s a cartoon villain and he wants you to know it! Oh no watch out! An Alice is dropping from the ceiling (the ceiling is super high since it’s one of those HIVE facilities again) so Wesker AND ALL THE DORKY TECH GUYS immediately pull DOUBLE GLOCKS and start blasting. This whole opening ten minutes (!) is quite frankly amazing. Everyone has katanas and machine guns and double glocks and the Alices are just running over the walls and holy shittttttttt

This goes on until Wesker escapes via some sort of weird Umbrella dropship and initiate self-destruct on the facility. But HO! OG Alice is on his ship! Haha! Fuck you, Wesk—ohhhhh he’s injected her with a thing. AACCKKK what did you do Wesker?

“Hahh… oh Alice…”

btw this is the first of Wesker’s smug speeches that make little to no sense

“I’ve injected you with an antidote! The T-virus bonded with your blood giving you increased strength… perception… agility… telekinesis… but now…. now you are human again! And now… I shall kill you!””

btw in the meantime we see the antidote destroying the T-virus cells WHICH ARE LITERALLY T SHAPED

HONK HONK HONK! Whoops! Wesker, you forgot you were flying a plane and now you are crashing into a mountain! In an utterly hilarious camera-swoopin’ freeze-frame we get to see Wesker in NEAR HORIZONTAL POSITION in the air trying to get at the controls like some insane Wile E. Coyote motherfucker. I half expected some subtitles to pop up under him going all VILLANUS UMBRELLAE WESKERI

SOMEHOW, Alice gets out of this wreck alive and well, and decides to head up north to the mythical ARCADIA where survivors have supposedly set up a commune of the uninfected. She heads to Alaska in a cute little red TinTin plane, keeping a pretty pointless video diary that serves no purpose other than to keep the cheap seats up to date. Which, you know, isn’t too stupid considering this movie’s ICP-lovin’ target audience.

Lemme talk about the music for a second, actually. By getting tomandandy to do the score, there’s a sort of audio-cohesion for the first time in the series. tomandandy get the threatening, industrial droning that Anderson so obviously was looking for in the first movie, but filled it up with SlipKnot and Orbital instead. A good new addition they make!

Once there, she discovers naught but a cemetery for aircraft! There is no village whatsoev—HEYYYY what the hell, feral Claire Redfield! Get off me! Wait… why do you have a metal spider on your tits? You’re coming with me!

So they fly down the West Coast together till they get to LA, where they find some survivors in a prison surrounded by the undead. Figuring what the hell, Alice attempts a risky landing on the roof. She almost makes it, but she’s gonna topple off the side oh n—NOT SO FAST *slo mo black man leap*

She was lucky that one of the survivors was a black basketball player who literally SLAM DUNKS her plane back on to the roof. We’re about twenty minutes into the movie!

They give her a little tour of the premises, introducing the new characters/zombie fodder, with as a special highlight the mysterious CHRIS… played by fascinating Prison Break actor Wentworth Miller. The movie tries to play him off as a shadowy figure of mysterious allegiance by putting him in this sort of Hannibal Lecter cage. But it doesn’t help that his reasons for being in the cage seem perfectly legitimate. Come on movie, you’re not making this guy very threatening by having him deliver reasonable excuses in a growly voice!

It’s not long before burrower zombies with Reaper (the BLADE II kind, not the Mass Effect kind) faces come through the floors* and expose a tunnel system that leads through the sewers. Although the sewers lead out to sea, and the ship ARCADIA (oh yeah it’s a ship lol sorry Alice) is right off the coast, they do not want to take these tunnels! They’d rather take an Urban Pacification Vehicle through the zombie crowd – which is probably not to the liking of THU AXEMAN

Yeah he’s literally just a ten foot hooded guy with a giant home-made maul that APPEARS at the prison gates. Like, he actually just walks up and starts helping the little zombies smash the gates. The T-virus/Alice’s blood had hitherto really been reaching PROMETHEUS levels of retardation/unpredictability, but just having this guy show up with NO explanation whatsoever is really a new level of callous OH LET’S JUST THROW SHIT AT ‘EM Andersonness. Btw that’s Claire in the screenshot fighting him, taking over from depowered (remember?) Alice for a pretty good fight. After she pumps him full of lead, but *gasp* he starts getting up again, however, Alice swoops in and blows his head off. YER GOOD Claire, real good! But as long as Alice is around, ye’ll always be second best, SEE??? This is really a recurring theme of Alice reminding secondary characters that uh-uh-uhhhhh I’m still the biggest badass around here! Since there’s no time to fix the car and zombies are overrunning the building (and the asshole MOVIE PRODUCER stole the plane) they decide to take the tunnels anyway.

When they reach the ARCADIA, Claire’s memory comes back upon seeing the Umbrella logo below deck. Yes… yes… the boat was there… Umbrella goons came and took us… put spiders on all our tits… I managed to escape…

btw Chris is Claire’s brother, but she doesn’t really remember THAT

The EXTREMELY GIGANTIC hold of the ship is full of people cylinders, including our beloved K-Mart. Well, even if you don’t love K-Mart, pretend you do, cuz all the others are literally nobodies in white jumpsuits. Hmmm what… what is going on he--

OH HELLO ALICE

*gasp* WESKER YOU MOTHERFUCKER

hmmm yes yes since I ingested the T-virus

(what when did he do that)

I needed human DNA to balance it out

(human dna what? does it do that)

but now that you are here… your STRONGER DNA will be the key to my little predicament

(what does he mean stronger dna how can dna be stron—how did you surive that plane cr—)

*fight scene happens*

SHOULD you guys be worried at this point that I didn’t mention zombie dogs at any given moment, here they are! Wesker has two zombie dobermanns (that is literally the only race that ever gets infected in these movies) that split open down to their haunch and you’ve got literally half their heads snappin at ya, which is pretty cool.

Also pretty cool: condescending Wesker surviving all the damage Chris, Claire and Alice throw at him to make ever more smug faces! This guy right here!

Anyway, at one point they foolishly think they damaged him enough, so they leave his bullet-riddled body at the foot of his throne and lock the Hollywood producer douchebag in with him. The movie’s only major failure to pander in my opinion is giving the producer guy an off-screen death. Come on, he’s the Horror Movie Asshole! At least show us Wesker biting him in half or something! Wesker goes to the dropship bay (whoa that’s a big boat) and sets off the self-destruct sequence like in Tokyo. But hey what? That beeping is awfully close… Alice you bi--

Wesker, we hardly knew ye! Oh all right, we knew ye well enough, but you were a blast to hang out with! I hope you are even more indestructible than you seemed because the next two movies will be lesser for not having you! Another thing I liked: the self-destruct sequence of Umbrella facilities is literally just a big bomb that is easily movable from its wall slot. I imagine Alice just putting it in the one dropship she knew (?) Wesker would fuck off in, giggling to herself “Ain’t I a stinkuh???”

Ah yes yes, time for Milla, Chris and Claire to settle down and start a maritime colony with these really spaced out white jumpsuit fuckers (and K-Mart) and get to fishin’ for cod and c—what now?

A whole fleet of Umbrella dropships, that’s what! Maannnnn, what are you guys even doing anymore! Your boss is dead! Earth is a zombie wasteland! Put half the effort you put into kung fu and weapons training into agriculture and you’d probably have a hippie paradise in six months!

Series first: the mid-credits stinger! A purple spandex-clad lady tells her Umbrella goons that the woman they are about to meet will give them the fight of their lives… turn to the camera… nobody in the audience has any idea who she is… CONTINUE THE CREDITS

In the games she looks like so:

After having looked like so for a few years:

Yup! It’s ole Jill Valentine from APOCALYPSE, ever a slave to visual video game continuity! I mean yeah, I can see that they’d put her in another outfit, but to actually DYE HER HAIR pushes it right over into retardo “oh yeah it’s like that in the game so why the fuck not” territory. Even more hilarious considering that the movie and game stories look pretty much NOTHING alike at this point. Who put that spider on your tits, Jill? Crossing my fingers for a not-dead-at-all Purefoy! Oh who am I kidding, anything will do! Feed me your slop, Anderson!

*Interrupting a planned Milla shower, which makes this the first RE where she keeps it all on!

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Lollest Common Denominator v3: RESIDENT EVIL–EXTINCTION

I guess Paul W.S. Anderson took the complaints about a distinct lack of apocalypse to heart, post RE: APOCALYPSE. Milla gives us a nice VO at the start of EXTINCTION that “Umbrella thought they had contained the T-Virus outbreak… they were wrong.” How did those fuckups at Umbrella EVER get their products into 9 out of 10 American homes? The true evil overlords here are probably Umbrella’s marketing department. Anyway let’s talk about the third entry in the RESIDENT EVIL SAGA

Resident Evil Extinction 00

Well, the T-virus certainly did a number on Earth, yessirree! Not only did your basic zombie apocalypse happen, the rivers also dried up, the lands went barren, etc etc. It’s like Anderson was like PFFFFRTTT fuck you! Here’s your apocalypse you whiny bastards!

The movie starts dishearteningly, with what seems like a flashback to the first movie, as Alice wakes up naked on the shower floor.* She stumbles through the well-known RESIDENCE from the first movie (gotta keep that title relevant!) until… GASP!! a booby-trap shoots her in the gut! Hey, there’s Dr. Isaacs from last movie with some stooges! Take blood samples! Clean up this mess! They take an elevator upstairs to a cover-up shack and ditch the body in a whole DITCH O’MILLAS! This shack is surrounded by a tiny chain-link fence, but even more distressingly, by a whole horde o’ zombies.

It’s immediately apparent that this is the first time in three movies where some care went into the zombie make-up. They look like rotted people and skeletons-with-some-bits-still-on-‘em, rather than the “guys in grey make-up” from the earlier movies. Also, no herky jerky whenever they’re in the shot. Thank you, Russell Mulcahy, director of HIGHLANDER!

Which is actually an interesting thing: Mulcahy is the third director in three movies, but Anderson is always listed as writer and producer. And the writing credits aren’t just “based upon characters created by” either, it’s straight up “written by Paul W.S. Anderson”. These aren’t committee written Hollywood pieces of shit… they are HIGHLY PERSONAL pieces of shit! This series is Anderson’s LIFE’S WORK!

The Real Alice is actually driving across the desert wasteland on a motorcycle (BMW) with a little GPS (Vaio) thingy to STAY OFF THU GRID. She left the rest of her band after the second movie because Umbrella’s ability to track her made her a liability. Now she kinda wanders and… does stuff. Scoping out an abandoned gas station, she finds a fly-ridden hanged corpse, but also a notebook! She picks this up cuz driving can get boring. Hey wait, a survivor? The series does its signature “let’s creep up on someone from the back for a jump scare” thing, but the lady is not infected. She wants Milla HELP MAH BEBBEH. Zombie babbly? No, it’s just a plastic doll! Momma turns out to be a cannibal rapist hillbilly matriarch, and her boys jump Alice right away. Alice being Wolverine and Captain America at the same time, there’s no actual danger of rape happening. They try to, but Alice kicks the guy’s face in, after which they throw her in a pit. Disgusting Props for having Momma help hold Alice down, btw! Oh but it ain’t just a pit! It’s a pit with ZOMBIE DOGS lest you forget you’re not actually watching The Hills Have Mad Max. Follows a prettty cool action scene where Alice manages to tie the dogs to a pillar and their mad scrambling brings the house down, turning the erstwhile spectators into dog chow. That was cool!

Cut to a lone zombie munching on a lone corpse on an equally lonesome highway. Then BAM a truck hits him and his brain matter splatters all over the windows of a school bus. INNA GADDA DA VIDDA blares as we are introduced to our human cast, featuring old-timers Carlos and LJ from the second movie. In a why-the-fuck-not nod to the games, the convoy is led by Claire Redfield (Ali Larter), the female playable character in RESIDENT EVIL 2. Although my knowledge of the games is limited, I do know that none of them are set in a post-apocalyptic wasteland, so any “nods” to the games are pretttty much pointless right about now. But heck, it’s Claire Redfield, and why not.

Dr. Isaacs has been using the Alice blood to work on a cure for zombieism. Well, not a cure, exactly, but something to restore basic intelligence and make them docile. At a big board meeting with the Umbrella hot shots, he proposes that while the infected crave flesh, they do not need it for sustenance. They could go on for decades! But if we shoot ‘em up with this, we can tame them and we could live like TRUE 1% KINGS with zombie butlers!

Everyone seems to like this, and they give him the go-ahead. I like that this wasn’t actually Umbrella’s original evil master plan. Isaacs suggests it and everyone’s just all “oh yeah yeah good idea man”, like Anderson is, once again, tacitly admitting that MAYBE Umbrella isn’t the most forward thinking of companies. Guy up above, by the way, is WESKER, Umbrella’s CEO. He’s another hilarious case of NOD 2 THU FANS since he always wears sunglasses like his game counterpart. Because we only see him in a board meeting in an underground facility, so he just looks like a stupid asshole. He’s revealed to be a hologram, so I almost wanted to retract this, but his real location at the end turns out to be just another board room in another underground facility, so…

Alice and Claire’s gang meet up when the former saves the latter from ZOMBIE CROWS by setting them all on fire with her mind powers. A lot of swooping hero Michael Bay shots of Alice proclaiming shit’s bout to get real! Crows pecking people’s faces off! This… this movie is delivering on cheap B-movie thrills! Over a campfire, they all pour over Alice’s notebook where the guy who hanged himself pasted a bunch of flyers about SCENIC ALASKA, and kept a diary in which he seemed to have received radio broadcasts from survivors up north. Radio signals from Alaska to Nevada? Damn, shit IS top notch over there!

As Isaacs’ attempts to capture Milla prove to be problematic, the board decides it’s not worth it anymore and forbids him to keep trying. Crafty Dr. Isaacs, however, samples a bit of Wesker’s voice and preps a strike team on his account. I guess the mercs thought Wesker was amusing himself with a Christopher Walken impression since the sample is REALLY OBVIOUS with long ass pauses. Paraphrased: “I… authorize… a strike… tee… m!” Yeah, this movie won my heart by straddling the fine line between sorta cool and really stupid.

Isaacs and his goons drop a container full of zombies in the convoy’s way, which leads to a pretty exciting post-apocalyptic Las Vegas strip shootout. I dunno why they want zombie butlers, since they seem to have mastered tesseract technology; About 50 zombies run out of that five-by-ten foot container! Before anyone gets their panties in a bunch, the zombies RUN because Isaacs roided ‘em out before unleashing them, so there. Not that anyone who gets his panties in a bunch about running zombies would be with this series till the third installment, but there you go.

Stupid Isaacs gets bitten himself (you coulda just SHOT them all, guy) and makes a break for it back to the facility. Alice gets the brilliant idea that they could use THE HELICOPTER to go to Alaska (b-b-but you’ll still need fuel?), so they decide to break in and steal it. The unfortunately bitten Carlos proposes to ram their truck into the mob of zombies that surround the facility’s fence and blow it up. I’m mentioning this because possibly my favorite shot of the movie is Carlos in the toppled truck’s cab discovering a lone doobie, lighting it up along with the dynamite, and the camera pulling back as the zombies rush the cab while Carlos LOOKS STRAIGHT INTO IT with a sexy “aayyyy guurrrrllll” look before he and all the zombies blow up.

Isaacs, OF COURSE, has injected himself full of Alice serum and is now a monster. But he is a far cooler looking monster than Nemesis! Look! You can totally see Iain Glen in it!

The fact that it’s not a stuntman in a monster suit allows for Isaacs to keep hamming it up as the final boss monster. HAARGGHHH I THOUGHT YOU WERE THE FUTURE ALICE… BUT IT WAS MEEEEE ALL ALONG HAAHRAHHGHHHH

In possibly the best “I’m sorry for earlier crap” move Anderson pulls, the Isaacs monster gets diced by lasers, but this time WE TOTALLY GET TO SEE IT. Thanks, man!

THIS movie’s cliffhanger ending consists of the Umbrella CEOs discussing all contact being lost from the American facility, when they’re suddenly contacted by Alice who puts their asses on notice – she’s comin, bitches! And she’s bringing some friends. A MILLION ALICES is the movie’s final shot, before a cover of “White Rabbit” leads us into the credits because Anderson loves his half-assed Alice’s Adventures In Wonderland references. It’s not Jefferson Airplane, but shit, it’s a step up from SlipKnot in the last one!

EXTINCTION is the first entry I’m dubbing “pretty cool”. This series is making me feel like Lisa Simpson falling in love with Nelson Muntz. Stop worming your way into my heart, you stupid pieces of shit! I’m gonna have to break out the antivirus and I don’t really know how much means “makes you walk again” rather than “grow tentacles”!

*Milla is probably the only beautiful actress that could tweet nude pictures of herself and the whole world would shrug.

Friday, March 8, 2013

Lollest Common Denominator v2: RESIDENT EVIL – APOCALYPSE


residentevil_apocalypse
Perhaps I wasn’t entirely clear in my post on the first movie, but I’m not really invested in the RESIDENT EVIL series emotionally. I remember exactly two instances of where I played the games in my entire life; Once at my cousin’s playing the original on PS, then nearly a decade later playing RE4 for a few hours on the Wii. I had fun both times, but I didn’t run out to buy any of them. ALAS this is the Age of the Internet and everything has a fanbase, to the point where movie execs feel justified rebooting a franchise not half a decade old because the hero now has slightly fewer powers and his girlfriend is called Gwen instead of Mary Jane. SO YEAH
RESIDENT EVIL: APOCALYPSE has as misleading a title as the first movie, where precious little runtime was spent in the titular residence! This time, the APOCALYPSE is pretty confined to the destruction of Raccoon City, The Town That Was Named By Japanese Game Developers. We join up with Milla (or as her character is apparently named, Alice, since no one bothered to name her in the first) again as she wanders the streets of an empty Raccoon City. She picks up some appropriately skimpy attire at a surplus shop, before meeting up with a couple of survivors who bring her up to speed with what happened since she woke up.
In a hilarious display of classic UMBRELLA RETARDATION, they re-open the Hive as promised at the end of the first movie and send a bunch of scientist in decontamination suits in. One of the scientists looks at his little geiger counter that indicates T-Virus Levels which goes to OH SHIT RED about five seconds after they set foot in the place. He looks up as if to say, “Uh… guys…?” and then they all just get swamped by zombies. SO THAT’S WHAT THIS FUCKING T VIRUS DOES AAAAARGGHHHH
Then we are introduced to various body parts of a sexy high-heeled femme fatale as she does things around her apartment. The things she does are all located near newspaper clippings about the rise and fall of a young cop named Jill Valentine who was DUPED and FRAMED for… something? and thrown out of the Raccoon City elite S.T.A.R.S. (Special Tactics And Japanese Acronyms) team. But these new troubles have spurred Jill into action, and she’s about to tell her dumbass superiors what’s really going on! Sienna Guillory struts into the police station dressed almost exactly like her video game counterpart:
All the other cops are in uniform or suit and tie, and she just cosplays the shit out of it. But the crescendo of lulz does not stop! Those stupid donut munchin’ ex-partners of hers are trying to subdue a bunch of zombies. Jill doesn’t have time for that and just blasts a bunch of ‘em in the head, after which she confronts the Stupid Chief with a good “Don’t you see what’s going on here???”. I think is probably my favorite scene of the entire movie. It just completely plays like a Funny Or Die skit. Not only is Jill decked out like a cosplayer in a seemingly “normal” movie police station, the RCPD is also somehow trying to process obviously cannibalistic monster men. LJ, the movie’s comedy pimp, is cuffed to a chair fighting off two zombie hoes trying to get at him. If this is how authorities work in the Raccoon government, I am not entirely sure anymore that APOCALYPSE is an undeserved subtitle here. These people would probably show the Ring tape as a pre-movie cartoon at the local Raccooniplex.
Jill Valentine was one of the two playable characters in the first game, and her appearance in this movie dressed exactly like the game seems like Anderson placating fans. He adds another game character, namely Carlos Oliveira, played by this guy:
as the leader of an Umbrella special ops team out to do SOMETHING. He is introduced as he jumps out of a helicopter and dual-wields Glocks in free-fall, blasting at zombies chasing a lady on a rooftop. Also on Carlos’ team is NIKOLAI, played by:
So if you wanna see Scut Farkus doing a Russian accent and shoot the shit out of some zombies (and zombie dogs because obvs) this is the movie for you.
The city is quarantined by Umbrella because 9 out of 10 households have Umbrella products in them, as the first movie told me, so I’m pretty sure that gives them the right to quarantine an American city (precedent set by Naberrie vs. Trade Federation, 1999).
Alice’s band meets up with Carlos’ team and are contacted by a guy on the outside. This is the Professor whose little girl failed to get evacuated because zombie drivers are simply a menace. The Professor is
a clever guy cuz he hid the T-virus and its antidote in the girl’s lunchbox or something, so it’s a win win if Alice’s people go to the school and find lil’ Angie. They do, action scenes happen, blah deeh bla, but let’s talk about NEMESIS the most retarded looking movie monster of the last decade!
He is the infected UglyBettyGuy from the first movie turned into a big ole Frankenstein monster and UNLEASHED within quarantined Raccoon City to test his capabilities. Umbrella, always makin rotten lemons into necrolemonade! Now basically he just looks like a big ole rotted bodybuilder with an apron and platform shoes.
nemesis
And all the people he kills, he kills with a minigun and a rocket launcher, so I’m not really sure why you have to go and mutate regular people if you can just put armor on their chests and rocket launchers in their hands and get kinda the same results. I mean yeah okay, this guy has a DIRECT LINK with Umbrella Douchebag and his Computer Lady but you might as well give regular guys a headset too!
The big, weird thing that the movie doesn’t get is the zombie presence. Director Alexander Witt (don’t worry though, Anderson still wrote and produced this one) decides that every time a zombie horde attacks, the camera shutter speed should get turned the fuck uppppp so the zombies are all herky jerky at all times. I have no idea what he was trying to achieve. Maybe (probably) the zombie make-up just wasn’t up to par and if everything was blurry and jerky it wouldn’t register as much.
In YET ANOTHER DARK REVELATION, the Umbrella Douche (he is named Major Tom Cain but I don’t remember that being dropped anywhere so UD it is) tells Milla she performed ADMIRABLY! And now to test her strength against Nemesis! Well okay, I guess they were doing something with her when they stuck all them tubes in there. She couldn’t jump like an X-MEN extra in the first movie! Milla is actually quite fun in this one. She jokes and laughs and punches and shoots. There’s one scene where the scope of a sniper trying to shoot lil’ Angie is blocked suddenly and it’s Milla just holding her hand in front of it like peekaboo. Then she laughs and punches him off the roof. A marked improvement in FUN as opposed to cowering wh-what is happening in this HIVEEEE Milla from the first movie. Another fun detail, when Alice and Nemesis have their showdown, they both put their dukes up like they were debating who the damn pater familias is.
It ends with yet another cliffhanger, as Raccoon City is nuked by Umbrella and the explosion is covered up by a “nuclear meltdown” at the Raccoon power plant. Ella suggested this was definitely in the pre-social media age, since if a local paper actually has the headline THE DEAD WALK, no way was #raccooncity not a trending topic in, what, three hours?The blast has Alice and her band’s helicopter crash in the woods, where she is picked up by (who else) Umbrella scientists who tinker with her some more. One of those guys is:
which is p. cool cuz I like that guy! It seems like he’s the villain for 3, so it’s got that in its favor already! Milla escapes, STARES a security guard to death (???) and is picked up by her fellow survivors with fake Umbrella IDs and black jumpsuits. I was disappointed to see that lil’ Angie was hidden in the car, cuz I was hoping the movie would be retarded enough to have a little girl with a fake Umbrella ID walk into a high security facilty and just walk out with a towel wearing Milla.
Although I wouldn’t actually RECOMMEND this movie to anyone outright, I didn’t find it the abject failure the first one was. The horror aspect is still pretty dire (as evidenced by the shutter speed fast walkin’ dead), but it’s SO downplayed that it just feels like a DTV action movie where some of the bad guys just happen to be monsters. And as a DTV that accidentally got into theaters, it’s not bad. I know, I know, low bar, but I’m not a book learnin Umbrella doctor or anything.
brb gonna check basement for zombies

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Derp Blog Into Darkness #11: HIS GIRL FRIDAY

In Derp Blog Into Darkness, I take a plunge into the deep with movies I’ve never seen or (in some cases) even heard of, with the only common thread throughout being that they were purchased by my partner in the years after the break with her religious upbringing. This gives me a range from mainstream comfort food to more daring, “rebellious” stuff.

I can’t really recall ever having seen any particular screwball comedy, even though I must have seen quite a few in my childhood years. The screwball comedy pretty much fit my often-home-alone mother’s definition of “a nice movie” to the tee. Black and white, attractive actors, fast-paced light witty banter and a happy ending. What’s not to like! I really enjoyed DOWN WITH LOVE, even with my mere cursory “feel” for what the genre entailed rather than an actual working knowledge of it. This genre being relatively unexplored territory to me, a conscious front-to-back viewing of one of the seminal examples of it was just what I needed. Dames ‘n gents, let’s talk about:

hisgirlfriday

Everybody winking and smiling on that poster isn’t just empty affectation, it’s pretty much what you can expect from the movie. Nobody’s taking it seriously, and nothing is serious. Basically everyone is a big cartoon character crackin’ jokes at 5000mph at all times.

Now before I talk about the movie more, I would like to show you the main menu of a legally purchased and in every way legit DVD:

hisgirlfridaymenu

i mean come on

Rosalind Russell plays Hildy Johnson, ex-wife to Cary Grant’s Walter Burns. Hildy is going to marry goody two shoes Bruce Baldwin (Ralph Bellamy) and comes by Burns’ newspaper office to let him know. The career-obsessed Burns was a neglectful husband, but not really in any dramatic way. We learn that they spent their honeymoon in an abandoned coal mine chasin’ leads! “Well I couldn’t have known about the second cave-in!” Burns sheepishly complains. Burns also keeps reminding Hildy of her being an amazing newspaper MAN (?) but Hildy will have none of it! “Bruce makes me feel like a woman!” All this career bullshit is for the birds! She wants to make babies and darn socks! Now this is a valid life choice, of course, but it’s sooort of weird for a 1940 movie to present a career woman, surely a rarity in popular media depiction of the time, who just wants OUT as soon as possible to go be a housewife.

The only other “ooooookay 1940” moment comes when Burns discusses the case of Earl Williams (John Qualen), a man wrongfully convicted of shooting a cop. Why’ve they got him locked up then, if he didn’t do it? “Well, the police officer was colored, and there’s a lot of colored voters in town.” It’s a… a reverse OJ!

Anyway, Burns wants to save Williams from the gallows (!) and needs Hildy to write one of her signature EMOTIONAL PIECES, which he’s sure will grant them a reprieve from the governor. “But Walter, we’re a Democrat paper!” “We’ll be a Democrat paper again after the reprieve!” Never mind unscrupulous, Burns is straight up CRIMINAL at times. He employs a lady of the night, a forger and a straight up gangster to GET THU STORY throughout the movie. You see, Hildy just wants to go to Albany with her new beau to be wed in the morning, but Burns keeps on throwing obstacles in their path, going so far as to have Bruce be incarcerated on false charges several times (planting fake money on him for one!). When he sends his lady of the night to get Bruce locked up on soliciting charges, she asks him who to look out for. “Oh, he looks like that fella in the pictures… Ralph Bellamy!” What a weird metajoke for a movie that old! How delightful!

Look, Cary Grant and Rosalind Russell ARE this movie. They’re just absolutely magnetic. They keep such a rapid-fire pace of wit going that you’d be forgiven to think our grandparents were issued dizziness warnings before entering the cinema like some sort of jocular EXORCIST. Grant makes you like this corrupt son of a bitch completely effortlessly as he keeps smugly insulting everyone without his targets even being aware that they’re being condescended to. Russell is essentially the perfect Lois Lane in a movie that just happens to not feature Superman. Despite her wish for a gender-normative existence (at the start of the movie at least) she never comes across as anything less than a hilarious badass. Bellamy plays the new beau as a big lovable dope who is completely out of his league against Grant’s wiley charms, like Ned Flanders if he were special. I’ll also give big props to John Qualen who plays a cop killer (!) like he’s fucking Droopy Dog and completely comes across as a poor, simple man just caught up in this tornado of wit.

I recently saw the Marx Bros. movies for the first time, and I had a hard time getting into them. They were a sort of movie that doesn’t really exist anymore, essentially an extension of the vaudeville tradition where you’re watching a couple of performers do their bit with the loosest attempt at a plot to tie it together. True, screwball plots are nothing more than an excuse to get the leads bantering, but they exist within a more-or-less set universe. Marx Bros. movies might as well be filmed as stand-up comedy, and that takes a bit of getting used to as a modern viewer. HIS GIRL FRIDAY pretty much lives on in romcoms and sitcoms of today, but I can hardly name actors that are as charismatic and hilarious as Grant and Russell, LET ALONE that they’d lower themselves to doing a romcom.

Sometimes I watch good movies!

Friday, March 1, 2013

Lollest Common Denominator v1: RESIDENT EVIL

I realized recently that there were four or five RESIDENT EVIL movies. In the last decade, there has been a RESIDENT EVIL movie in production at any given moment in time. Doesn’t that kind of blow your mind? Who do you know that is a big fan of the RESIDENT EVIL movies? Do you have a cousin, a sibling, a loved one who awaits with bated breath the release of RESIDENT EVIL: TRAPPER KEEPER DOODLE WORD in 2015? I don’t! But they are out there, or else we wouldn’t keep having these movies just… appear every few years!

And you know what? I haven’t seen any of them. Well okay, I’ve seen 2 and 3, but I was in such altered states that I remember only a comedy pimp and a flock of crows from both of them, respectively. So there we have it: 10+ years of B-movies that I haven’t seen. Fresh territory to explore and… enjoy? Let’s find out with the first movie!

residentevil

The year is 2002. CGI is hot shit, but not still hot enough that it would be a draw to audiences (like say, THE MASK). Video games were also hot shit, despite their movie adaptations not always being so. THE MATRIX and its retarded bullet-time havin’ brethren definitely were hot shit. So maybe… put those things together? Yeah sure, greenlight that sucker! It really amuses me to think that George Romero, the granddaddy of all zombie movies actually had written a treatment for this movie, only for it to be rejected in favor of the cost-cuttin’ director of MORTAL KOMBAT, Paul W.S. Anderson! Oh, what delicious fanboy agony that must have been!

I’m not the world’s biggest Romero fan, personally, but from the first few minutes, Anderson makes it clear that he’s not making this movie for those with an IQ in the triple digits. The movie starts out with flash cards that are also being narrated by what sounds like a Trailer Voice Guy. TVG tells us that The Umbrella Corporation manufactures everything from software to household appliances, and 9 out of 10 American households have Umbrella products in their homes. BUT… Umbrella also secretly develops military hardware, genetic experiments and viral weaponry… *BAM* RESIDENT EVIL

…okay?

We see some office people at Umbrella going about their work, when someone futzing with BLUE VIALS and also GREEN VIALS callously throws one to the ground and the whole installation goes into lockdown. People are shut into elevators, locked into labs where they slowly drown from water leaking out of a broken thingy (?)… basically everything goes to shit. It ends with a pretty cool death where a lady tries to crawl out of the elevator she and her coworkers are stuck in, and the elevator suddenly starts dropping down just as her head’s sticking out from between the narrow doors. Just before her neck hits the floor, the elevator stops. But before she can crawl back in, the elevator just WHOOSHES back up and makes her hit the ceiling instead. That’s pretty darkly comedic/original! Also, we don’t actually see the decapitation, but rather we cut to a POV shot until the ceiling coincides with a smash cut to black. Mmmmmaybe that would have been a better title reveal moment?

Anyway, Milla Jovovich wakes up in a manor house somewhere and seems to be either amnesiac or really thankful for all of life’s little mysteries like drawers and chairs. Speaking of MIRACLES: it was around the time that jump-scare-encounterin’ Milla is seized by some sort of special ops team that I realized RESIDENT EVIL is probably a fan-favorite among Juggalos. There’s a lot of aggressive and loud music, there’s hot babez n gunz n shit, blood, monsters, and everything’s nicely spelled out by computer voices should you get lost at any point.

Another hilarious moment comes when the special ops leader (Colin Salmon of JAMES BOND 007 fame) explains that the manor Milla woke up in was a front for the emergency exit to THE HIVE, an Umbrella underground research facility. While he’s explaining the location and functions of THE HIVE, the camera takes us through a CGI model of the facility. The characters are not watching this on a screen, it’s purely a directorial flourish to visualize what Salmon is telling them. When the virtual tour of the facility stops as the camera pulls in close to our group, Salmon finishes with: “We are the red figures on the map.” But nobody’s looking at a screen. They’re all standing around in a hangar. Salmon was… saying this… to explain to the audience… that the red human-shaped thingies on the computer thingy… were the movie’s characters.

Yeah, it’s a movie based on a video game with zombies, but honestly, it felt much more like a SPECIAL OPS vs. ROGUE AI movie. The zombies are just human employees (and dog test subjects) infected with the T-VIRUS from the broken blue vial at the start of the movie. So it’s basically “Really Cheap JURASSIC PARK With Zombies And Techno”. Boy, that techno/metal! There are SOME jump scares for the gentlest among us, I suppose, but Anderson undercuts any tension he might have built up in favor of a soundtrack that’ll make you want to pop happy pills and rob the nearest baby of its pacifier. And it’s not limited to weird soundtrack choices! There’s at least three moments where there appears to be a scene missing. Michelle Rodriguez is swamped by zombies… Michelle Rodriguez is on a high ledge taunting the zombies. Milla and Ugly Betty Guy are having a Plot Revelation Conversation in an empty office… Milla and Some Guy are running towards wherever the hell Michelle and James Purefoy are hidin’ out cuz now zombies are after them! I swear I didn’t fall asleep at any point during this movie!

Now, I don’t really mind stupid at all. COMMANDO and BAD BOYS II are among my favorite movies of all time. But, unfortunately, this movie fails to deliver on the most basic level a stupid B-movie should deliver. The violence just isn’t up to (sorry) snuff. There’s one gleefully cruel scene where the Red Queen AI is fucking with the special ops team in a room of lasers where they all get chopped to bits in different ways. Strangely enough, they are all laser-chopped in a completely bloodless manner. It was like I was watching BREAKING DAWN again here! The final laser kill is diced into tiny little cubes, but we only ever see one side of his head start forming a grid pattern with blood seeping out, after which the camera pans over to a shocked Milla. Afterwards, during scenes set in that room, the camera is even set thusly that we never see that part of the room where the pile o’ special ops cubes are lying.

In an amazing instance of both the movie wanting to be sure everyone is up to speed and the divulging of information to the audience at the wrong time (in this case, far too late), Milla and the group of survivors are told that the best way to kill a zombie is to “sever the spine or severely damage the brain tissue”. To which Michelle Rodriguez helpfully reiterates: “WE GOTTA SHOOT ‘EM IN THE HEAD???”. The mind-blowing information that zombies oughta be shot in the head is brought to you near the hour mark of a 90 minute zombie movie. Yeah, there had been a whole lotta torso-shootin’ and “OMG why aren’t they staying down???” before that. I’m totally aware that this information is only old news to the genre-savvy (but really, that particular information is pretty mainstream) viewer and not so much to the characters, but you really should do away with such a plot point pretty early on in the narrative. The zombie genre was nearly half a century old even then!

Near the end of the film, a big quadruped monster attacks a human villain by jumping on him from the ceiling… after which we cut to Milla looking at security footage of it, where we see the monster… shaking about a bit on top of the guy? Then later when Milla and friends arrive at the scene, he’s just kind of lying in a puddle of blood without any real damage. Since the monster was described to have EVOLVED after sampling human DNA, I assume he carefully took some samples of earwax or something?

Anyway, Milla and her surviving friends fight off the Q-Tip Monster on a speeding train in a fight that is almost sorta cool cuz you can actually see damage being inflicted on the thing, in the intermittent shots where it is a puppet rather than shitty CGI. Ah yes, I almost forgot. In the scenes with zombie dogs, there are actual shots where dogs are used who are dressed up as zombie dogs. This looks amazing cuz they just glued various meat products onto dobermanns, it seems. Kudos to the dog trainers who kept them off of each other!

Milla and infected bro reach the surface where they are promptly quarantined by Umbrella guys. The guy’s so infected his wounds seem to be spoutin’ tentacles, but he’s dragged away as Milla is sedated and blacks out. She wakes up several weeks later since her natural hair color seems to be growing out, only to find RACCOON CITY, the town near the cover manor, completely desolate and empty. Pan out to cityscape, end credits.

I’m honestly kind of baffled as to why this warranted a sequel. I mean yeah, shitty movies make money all the time, but this movie even failed to deliver as an exploitation cheapie. Milla is generous with showing us her skeleton as always, but that can only take one so far. But hell, I promised, and promises are like umbrellas -- the best ones are the ones you smack a raccoon with repeatedly.