Monthly Archives: August 2012

Tron the Speed Walking Ninja

Direct-to-video is such a fun thing. If it wasn’t for direct-to-video, we wouldn’t have gems like this week’s selection: Stan Lee’s Lightspeed.  Let me begin by saying that I cannot believe the Great Stan Lee would put his name with this movie. But no, there he is listed as Executive Producer. Did he create the Lightspeed character? Lord, I hope not. Anyways, the great Oracle of Wikipedia doesn’t list it, so yeah. Hmmm…

By looking at the cast (Lee Majors, Nicole Eggert, Daniel Goddard) one would think this movie came out in the mid-80s or maybe even the early 90s, but no. This was out just 6 years ago. The cover on the box looks like a Tron knock-off. Here’s the trailer:

Lightspeed is a rather mediocre yarn about a guy named Daniel who earns his paycheck as a member of some Secret Squirrel black ops team of sorts. Daniel is played by Jason (son of Sean) Connery.  The Secret Squirrel team also includes Nicole Eggert (of Charles in Charge fame) as Daniel’s co-worker and lady-love. The team is led by the Fall Guy himself, Lee Majors.

The film opens with the Secret Squirrels infiltrating a building for defense contractors. Says so on the sign. Already in the building is a dude who looks like he has the head of a snake. IMDB credits him as Python. He’s played by none other than Daniel Goddard whom you might remember as Dar from the Beastmaster movies. Sorry, no ferrets in this film. Boo!! Pythons’ crew and the Secret Squirrels all exchange gunfire.

Since everyone is dressed alike, it’s really hard to tell who is who. Also, the camera work in this movie is all over the board. There are shots from other security cameras, night specs, POV shots with a shaky cam. There are sudden swipes of the camera into blurry pans. As soon as your eyes focus, the shot changes.

Anyways, Daniel fights his way through the bad cinematography to duel with Python. This is a good time to also point out that every single person in this movie mumbles their lines. I have watched and rewatched the entire conversation between Daniel and Python and I still have no idea what they said.

So it was a good thing when the movie decided to go into flashback mode. Yes! Turns out that four years before he was all snaky, Python was a regular scientist dude who was married to Daniel’s sister. The sister had been burned horribly and was in a coma in the hospital. Python worked night and day on some kind of Frankensteinish snake-skin regrowth experiment that might help his wife to heal. Anyways, Python’s funding gets cut and the wife dies. Python turns himself into a snake-man and goes all Mr. Freeze with his quest for revenge only he’s not nearly as cool as Mr. Freeze. See what I did there? Lame, I know.

Anyways, back in present day, Python wins the hand-to-hand and leaves Daniel trapped in the building which then collapses right on top of him. The search team finds Daniel, and rushes him to the hospital for the BEST SCENE in the entire movie. But before we can get to the scene we get to watch a little commercial break I like to call “Journey of the Ambulance.” That’s right! We see the stretcher go into the ambulance, and then from a series of shots, we follow the ambulance all the way to the hospital. But wait! There’s more. Once inside, we get to follow Daniel’s stretcher all the way down the hall until we can get to a doctor. I’m so glad that was kept in the movie. I mean, what a plot hole that might have been! One minute we are at a disaster site, and the next in the hospital. I might have wondered how he got there! [Sarcasm Sign]

Right, so the best scene in the whole movie goes like this. The doctor consults with Lee Majors as to Daniel’s state of health and recovery. He all but says to the man who played the Six Million Dollar Man: “We can rebuild him. We have the technology.” Okay, he didn’t say the exact words. He might have used “know-how” or something, but it was more or less the same exact thing. Poor Lee Majors. You know he was inwardly cringing  during that scene.

So by now you are thinking, “how does Daniel become Lightspeed?” Well here’s how. Python finds out that the old building collapse gag didn’t kill off his foe. So he shoots up the hospital and then aims what looks like a restaurant heat lamp over Daniel’s midsection. Then he leaves the hospital.

Turns out that heat lamp is a super-powerful radiation thingy that heals or helps heal or something. I’m glad folks leave sensitive radiation appliances all plugged in and unattended. Instead of killing Daniel, it actually gives him is super-powers which we’ll get to soon.

Due to the massive radiation and fear of lawsuit, the doctor advises lots of rest for Daniel. He and Eggert go to the Secret Squirrel safe house . Daniel is supposed to be resting, and we are entertained with a lovely montage of him doing so. Zzzzz….

So one day while resting in a lawn chair, a fly buzzes around Daniel’s person. He leaps to his feet and swats it faster than you can say “The Flash.” So, on that quick reflex of standing and killing a fly, he zooms down the road and all over the neighborhood. Then he passes out on a lawn.

It turns out that Daniel’s body can’t take his zooming about. The doctor (whom I’m convinced no longer needs to be practicing) says that Daniel should rest, oh and take the metabolism drinks and these adrenaline shots too. Yeesh.

The second time Daniel zooms around town, he goes straight for the Academy Sports store. He purchases an outfit that makes him look like Tron. He also gets a neck thing to protect from windburn, and this makes him look like a ninja.

I’d like to also point out that in any given contest between Lightspeed and the Flash, Flash will win every single time. Daniel doesn’t run so much as speed walk, and the special effect is laughable. He looks ridiculous.

Right. So you might be wondering where the plot is. What’s the bad guy up to maybe? Let me introduce you to the Mass Ionic Dispersal Device. It’s used to force greenhouse gases out of our atmosphere and also to decrease localized temperature. Of course, if you use some rare isotope, the opposite effect can occur. Hmmm… Python plans to steal the isotope and make the world a warmer place, I think. I’m not sure. He might have mumbled his villain speech about it.

Python gets the evil gear, but has had some of his plans thwarted by Daniel and his team. In retaliation, he kidnaps Eggert because she’s totally important to Daniel.  Python goes over some plans, but he mumbles them so something is said about burning something to the ground and something about a trap. It’s a Trap!!!

Daniel researches Python on the internets. He’s got nothing else to do. Lee Majors won’t let him back on the team since he’s still “healing.”  Eggert’s transmitter started signaling, but we all know that’s a trap. Daniel wants to help on the mission and Majors tells him he can stay put at base to assist. Sure he will, you betcha. Instead he puts on the super suit and hides it under a lab coat..and then off he goes to rescue his lady-love.

Fun fact: The sound of an alarm clock is the sound of success. Python had attached an alarm to a bomb on Eggert. When it goes off, she goes BOOM.  Basically, we have an issue here. Either Daniel saves his woman or he saves the city from the mass (heat)ionic dispersal device. But he won’t have time to save both. It’s a pickle, it sure is.

Will Daniel be able to safe both his lady and his city?  Will Python make the world a warmer place? Will Lee Majors show up again? Do we get to see more hilarious shots of Daniel speed walking about town? I know the answers. Mwah ha ha…

Lightspeed was a boring movie. I held on until the 45 minute mark, and then I started timing scenes. It got dull. Either the filmmakers didn’t have enough story and used filler shots of ambulances and rest montages to fill the gaps, or they just really enjoyed those scenes.  Everyone mumbled, so you couldn’t understand a word that was said, and if you managed to catch a few words, you were dizzy because the editing had all the shots leaping about and switching so fast.  For those reasons, the movie is very low on the “quality” scale. There’s no excuse. Many films are well-made on small budgets which I’m sure this one had.

Needless to say, I don’t suggest this movie. It had fun points, like the funny speed-walking scenes and the hospital scene, but that’s about it. Everything else was silly. Also, if I had the lightspeed-walking ability, I wouldn’t zoom to my local sports store. I’d get as far from the bad movie as I could. Just sayin’.

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Recent Movie Roundup (week of 08/24/12)

Happy Friday to you, ladies and germs! I’m working on my next review (hint: it’s science fictiony) and thought that in the meantime, I would fill you in on the latest flicks I’ve caught over the past week.

In Theaters: I actually made it out into the public scene early this week. I went to go see the long-awaited The Bourne Legacy starring Jeremy Renner (yes, please), Rachel Weisz, and Edward Norton. I’ll be honest: It was no Matt Damon-esque Bourne movie. It had similar elements, but this was its own creature that happened to coexist with the Damon trilogy story-line. I am not certain a further continuation should be in the works, but for what it was, The Bourne Legacy  was pretty cool. I think the major difference is that Damon’s character had no idea what all was going on, and we got to discover the crazy along with him. Renner’s Aaron Cross does know what’s happening, and it’s up to him to stay a step ahead in order to survive. It was a slightly different perspective on the Bourne universe, and I appreciated that. It sort of falls in with my remake rule #2 that I told you about HERE, except this isn’t a remake. It’s more like a companion/sequel/installment/parallel piece of sorts. I enjoyed it and look forward to the day it can join the other Bourne movies on my shelf.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch: I managed to watch a variety of movies via my trusty dvd player. I haven’t graduated to the whole Blu-ray thing yet, and I won’t until my player finally keels over. Until then, it’s dvd all the way.

1. In the Romantic Comedy genre, I chose The Decoy Bride starring David Tennant and Kelly Macdonald. This movie has been sitting on my queue for a while now mainly because I think Tennant was so geeky hot when he was the Tenth Doctor on Doctor Who. I’m happy to say that I’m well over my crush at this point and can now just respect him for being a talented actor who happens to be a little attractive. Anyways….this movie is about a super-famous actress and her writer fiance who are trying to have a quiet wedding with no paparazzi spoiling the day. In order to do this, they find the most remote island off of Scotland in the Outer Hebrides. The actress’ agent discovers that one persistent photographer has found their location, and he decides to trick the photog with a decoy bride. Well….as things tend to happen in movies, the fake bride (Macdonald, in a hilarious role. I’d love to see her do more comedies) and our writer (Tennant) find out they’ve actually legally married one another. I’m not describing it well. Here’s the link to the trailer. Really, it was a very cute movie, and I’d totally watch it again. Actually, I’ve already watched it twice.

2. “By Grabthar’s hammer, by the suns of Warvan, you shall be avenged!” Galaxy Quest sits very high on my list of all-time favorite movies. It’s no Star Wars but it’s so funny and so easy to watch over and over again. Every time I watch it I find something new to laugh at. If you weren’t aware, the film sort of parodies Star Trek and the fan craze surrounding it. In the movie, Tim Allen, Sigourney Weaver, and Tony Shalhoub play actors who were on a successful Trek-like show called Galaxy Quest. Aliens from a distant galaxy have discovered episodes of the long-defunct show and come to earth asking for the “crew’s” help in defeating an enemy. Also, it stars Alan Rickman who is a genius and Sam Rockwell whose character is crazy paranoid because he was originally hired as a possible red-shirt known only as Crewman #6.

3. The Mechanic. You know what? I really liked Jason Statham in movies like The Italian Job and Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels. But it seems that lately, he’s playing the same kind of character. He’s usually in an action flick where he’s sort of an anti-hero. In The Mechanic he’s a hitman who ends up training the psychotic son of his mentor (whom he killed–awkward?). Ben Foster plays the crazy son, and he’s kind of cool only with his cropped hair and his tough guy stance, he looks sort of like Jason Statham Jr. And maybe that’s what they were going for. I don’t know. The plot felt kind of pointless, and I honestly couldn’t recall the title of the movie about two days after watching it.  The action sequences were pretty groovy, though.

4. Last, but not least: Chain Reaction. This flick is all the way from 1996 and stars Keanu Reeves. The movie is about a team of scientists who are able to obtain clean energy from water, except that once the experiment finally works, things go horribly wrong along the lines of secret government conspiracies and the like. The movie was directed by Andrew Davis who also directed The Fugitive. This movie has a slightly similar framework. We have a hero who is framed for something he didn’t do. Instead of working with the police, he goes on the run and attempts to solve the mystery on his own. The FBI agent in hot pursuit also starts putting the pieces together and so on and so forth. I remember seeing this in the theater. It’s one of those movies that I enjoy watching from time to time, but I keep expecting it to be better than it turns out to be. Ah well, maybe next time.

Coming soon to a theater or blog near youDredd.  Have you seen the trailer for this yet? Good grief. I like Karl Urban, and okay so he’s attempting to do what Stallone so obviously screwed up in the horrendous Judge Dredd movie from back in the day. BUT, is there a reason for him to use the gruff and whispery Batman voice for his character? Also, (and I’m linking the trailer for you HERE), I think every generic action movie line is used in this thing. Well, they are used in the trailer, at least.  “Judgement time” “Let’s finish this.” Augh!!! The whole second half of the trailer was full of possible catchphrases. Still, the visuals look kind of cool. I’ll rent it and we’ll see if it ends up back here, kneeling before the wrath of Andrea. You never know…

Anyways, that was my week. Did you see anything of note? I’ve love to hear if you did.

Someone Call the Fashion Police

Sometimes a girl just needs to relax. She needs to paint her toenails, eat some chocolate, and turn the thinking side of her brain down a couple notches. Yours truly finds that a good non-thinker chick flick usually does the trick. The chick-flick usually involves your average girl next door in her journey to finding herself and Mr. Right. There are the requisite best friends, Mr. Wrong, and (and this is the most important part) extended montages involving shopping, makeup/hair styling, dancing, and/or trying on clothes.

Now, not all chick flicks are bubblegum and high-heeled shoes. Some fall towards the weepy category. Others star Meg Ryan. There are exceptions, of course, and I do have a few selections from the genre on my shelf. But lately the chick flick has felt more and more formulaic.  But hey! I said I was turning down the thinking side of my noggin. And you should too, because if you don’t, a small but mean headache will occur. You’ve been warned. This week’s movie is: Crimes of Fashion.

Crimes of Fashion was one of those Family Channel (Fox Family Channel? ABC Family?) movies. I’ll tell you what. That channel cranks out movie after movie of mediocre plots and yet I find myself watching them all the time. Christmas is a terrible time to tune in as they must churn out about ten new movies a year just for that one season. It’s like they have a little movie sweatshop in operation.

Okay, back to Crimes of Fashion.  The premise of this gem is that a girl named Brooke (Big Bang Theory’s Kaley Cuoco) attends the prestigious Fashion University (I do not make this up) and learns that she’s inherited a mafia family after the death of her long-lost grandfather. Yep….that’s it. I half wonder if someone thought up the title first and then came up with the plot.

Brooke doesn’t look like your average fashion school chick. While most of the students are walking around in crazy outfits,Brooke wears sweats and looks like she might have worn them the day before as well. Brooke’s fashion sense is promising, but she lacks the confidence that we all know is there somewhere.

Megan Fox’s character, Candace, is your run of the mill mega-bitch. She dates the popular guy, and takes every chance to one-up or insult Brooke. She wears her own designs every day. There really isn’t much work for Fox to do in this movie other than sneer and look evil.

Anyways, while on her way to Wedding Dress class, Brooke meets some older man who explains that he worked for her grandfather (of whom she didn’t know existed). She’s understandably upset, and a little freaked out when the old guy (named George) tells her that her grandfather wanted her to go in to the family business. *snort*

George explains that her grandfather wanted to take the business straight, but that he wasn’t able to finish the job. This is where Brooke comes in. Yeah….ok. As crazy as it sounds, Brooke takes him up on the offer. She still goes to class, but she also goes to the mob boss HQ (which I guess is hers?) and meets the boys.

George takes Brooke through a series of confidence training in showing who is in charge and such. Brooke, in turn, gives makeovers to the mob boys. There’s even a fun shopping/makeover montage. Yay!!!

But wait, there’s more! Since the death of Brooke’s grandpappy, the FBI has been on the lookout. They aren’t sure who will take over the business, and there’s also a rival family in town who is looking to take over.

A young FBI agent (named Jack) is assigned to keep an eye on Brooke since she’s the newest player in the criminal underworld. This means that Jack has to enroll at FU (hahahaha). Hilarity ensues since Jack is the worst fed ever. He’s very much like Barney Fife. In one scene he’s holding a giant magnifying glass and is struggling to thread a needle. It’s hopeless.

There are some funny things here at Fashion U. In one class, the professor is explaining pinning material and she’s doing this with like 100 pins in her mouth. She’s about at articulate as Charlie Brown’s teacher. Jack stumbles into class and he and Brooke hit it off right away. They supposed to be fitting partners, but Brooke’s crush (who wears a different colored page-boy hat every day–I call him Pretty Boy Fashion Star) calls her his honeysuckle and asks her to partner up. I think he does it cause she’s smart and not because he likes her. He’s very vapid. There’s one thing about the ABC Family movies—the characters are very one-dimensional, and so you don’t have to use too many brain cells with these. Nice.

My favorite thing is that the whole Fashion University acts like it’s a regular university. There’s a mascot who runs around looking like a spool of thread with a needle in it. He’s in almost every scene at the school.  There’s also an annual Sewing Rally in which students showcase their designs and compete in the Tri-State Sew-Off. Seriously, that’s what it says on the banner. Professors are dressed like refs and one lady says “you call that a pleat?!!” Tee hee.

So word gets out that Brooke might have family connections, and it’s insane. Candace tries to get her expelled (and fails), the press follow Brooke everywhere, and the professors are all flustered. One professor who was criticizing Brooke’s sweatsuit ensemble stumbles all over himself for fear of getting whacked. It kind of reminded me of a scene from The Freshman only  not.

Anyhoo, so there are lots of goings ons in this other than Brooke being a mob boss. Brooke and Jack get very sweet as one would predict since he’s the only other guy in the movie besides Pretty Boy Fashion Star. Evil Candace might be using someone else’s designs as her own. The dean of FU might be embezzling funds. Sal, the other mob boss in town might be after Brooke’s territory. And the future of Fashion University might be in peril!!!! So what does a newly made mafia queen do to save her school? She puts on a fashion show, of course!

It’s fashion night!  Brooke is showcasing her designs. Very nice, but at the same time, wouldn’t it be nice to let the other students pitch in and submit their designs too? No? Okay.  The show is gangster themed. How appropriate! Actually, some of the ladies’ suits are really nice. I’d wear them. I don’t know where I’d wear them, but I would totally do so should such an occasion present itself.

And finally, after all the loose ends are tied up, our movie abruptly ends. Not the scene I described above, but it might as well have been. There are like several scenes after that and then a rush cut to the credits. No fade out, no pull back from the shot, no nothing. Just the lights turned back on and everyone is asked to leave the theater. What’s that about?

So, as I’ve demonstrated, Crimes of Fashion is top-notch on the no-brainer scale of chick flicks (and movies in general). The plot is predictable, the characters are easy to figure out, and the good guys always come out on top. It was a fun movie, actually.  As per usual with any chick flick, the movie can get a little bit heartwarming. Somewhere deep, deep down below where the Balrog sleeps, I might have shed a tear. Whatever. I now have cute, pink toenails and a tummy full of chocolate. I also feel the urge to go shopping. Hmm….

I Scream, You Scream, We All Scream for Ice Gas!

Did you ever put in a movie expecting to see one thing only to have the movie be something else entirely? Have I got the title for you!

Back in 2010, Syfy (I think) put out a movie called Ice Quake. The descriptions vary. If you go by a user on IMDB’s description, it’s a world in peril type movie that seems to be high drama and possibly lots of action. Netflix (for once) actually got the description much better, but I ignored them because they are usually off-base. Oops.

Here’s what it’s about. It’s about many beautiful panoramic shots of ice-covered mountains. It’s about ill-placed suspense music. It’s about our environment. It’s also about Christmas and one family’s ill-fated sojourn to find the perfect tree. Let’s set the stage:

Opening shot: snowy mountains and our title. The shots are all soaring panoramas but the music is all chase scene. Suddenly, from out of nowhere, we see Santa on a snowmobile. Wait, that’s not Santa! That’s a scientist! He meets up with some other science guy as they study the snow on whatever glacier they are on.

Santa and pal are looking at temperature readings in the ice. Suddenly, the ice splits and our scientists are on 2 sides of a deep ravine. Non Santa makes a leap from one side to the other. As he does, the gases from the ravine flash-freeze him.  Santa hops on his snowmobile and zooms down the mountain in search of safety. Now is when the chase scene music should be playing—and it is. Oh, but Santa wasn’t fast enough. A geyser erupts in his path, wiping him clean off that mountain.

And that’s where out story begins. Ice Quake takes place in the mountains near a small, nameless town in Alaska. Wherever they are, there is an Army Corps. of Engineers base nearby as well as National Geologic Survey type lab. The movie focuses on a guy named Michael (played by Brenden Fehr who I remember as Booth’s brother on Bones) who works with the Army and that’s all I know about his job. Michael is trying to take Christmas Eve off and enjoy a nice day with his family, but he’s a bit of a workaholic.

He’s not the only one who wants to be somewhere else. His daughter, Tia, is addicted to her phone and wants to spend the day with a friend. His son, Shane, is one of those adorable, perfect kids. He’s been studying great explorers and is working on a survival kit. Brenden’s wife, Emily, is the one making everyone stay home and be a family. She’s also, in my opinion, a little stupid.

Case in point: An earthquake interrupts the family’s boring breakfast. It’s mild, but unnerving. Shane, being an adorable movie kid, announces “wow, an earthquake!”  Emily seems very concerned since it’s the second one in two days. Michael suggests calling in to the base so he can follow-up. And that’s when Emily reminds him that he’s on vacation. So…I’m thinking a rare earthquake might be more important than a vacation day, but whatever, Emily.

So in the spirit of ignoring strange weather and natural disasters, Michael announces that he’s going to go in search of the perfect Christmas tree—get this—on government land. I really thought you couldn’t hunt, fish or poach trees in Uncle Sam’s yard. Do I have this wrong?

Despite the nagging from the wifey, Michael calls in to the base to get a weather report. On the other end of the phone line is the wonderful Victor Garber. He’s playing Colonel Bill Hughes. I love Victor Garber. I wonder what favor he owed someone for this movie.

So anyways, everyone’s wondering about the strange earthquakes, but no one seems to be too concerned about them. Michael and family (and the family dog) head up the mountain and go off in search for a tree.

At this point in the movie, I’m about bored to tears. I was expecting to see some super disaster film set up and what I’m getting is a family hiking through the snow discussing Christmas and gifts and happiness and whatnot. This is starting to feel like a Hallmark Movie. I half expect the folks from those Good Witch films to wander through the town.

So when the next quake hit, I’m happy to say that I was so very pleased. It’s tremor time! The ground rumbles, the snow and ice on top of the mountain splits and lengthy crevasses form. The family runs down the trail in hopes to evade geysers and giant land cracks. They eventually seek refuge in a small outpost. I have no idea how that helps, but whatever.

Michael calls down to the base. He explains that’s it’s not just quakes but geysers too. Okay, doesn’t that fiddle with the title of this movie? Shouldn’t it have been Ice Geysers?  Maybe Ice Gas! Hmmm…  There is no time to ponder that. We’ve got an AVALANCHE!!!!!!!!  The family scurries out of the outpost and wisely gets to the side of the avalanche which tumbles down the mountain and over everyone’s cars. Can’t go home that way now!

Then if that’s not enough, another crevasse forms conveniently down the middle of the family. Michael and wife are on one side, and the kids on the other. Oh, and the dog is missing. So now in order to regroup, each duo will have to hike up the mountain to meet near the top where it looks like it’s still stable. Good luck, Wilderness Family!

At the Army base, the Colonel spends much of his time looking at computer screens, while pacing back and forth shouting “what could it be?” He’s got an unfortunate assistant whose sole job is to stare at a screen that show when the tremors are occurring. Nice job.  There’s also a scientist everyone refers to as “Methane Man.” As school nicknames go, that’s one I wouldn’t want. Dr. Methane theorizes that it was a giant blast of methane gas that killed the dinosaurs. He thinks that underground methane is what could be causing the quakes and geysers now, and that it could possibly wipe out all life on the planet. Now that’s what I’m talking about!

So anyways, if we didn’t need enough challenges, there’s a huge storm moving in. The Colonel sets up a rescue mission to find Michael and family. Super. Let’s recap the challenges, shall we?

  1. Crazy earthquakes and ice geysers are trying to kill everyone and no one knows how to prevent them.
  2. A storm is approaching.
  3. The family is separated and must travel far to regroup.
  4. The dog is missing.
  5. We still haven’t found a Christmas tree.

I’m not going any further plot-wise. There’s actually a whole lot more to come in the movie, but that’s up for you to enjoy or suffer through. I won’t spoil it. I will say, however, that I really thought I was sitting down to an end of the world action type movie, and instead I got a Hallmark flick that was heavy on the natural disasters. Not entirely my cup of tea.

First of all, and this is a petty complaint, but I could not stand Emily. There was zero chemistry between Michael and Emily. She kept asking stupid questions. Why did he marry her? I know the movie isn’t a romance, but it’s really hard to believe these two have had a couple of kids together when they act like strangers around each other. Also, except for one action on her part (which does turn out to be important) she spends the other 99% of the movie being completely useless.

Also, Ice Quake is a teaching movie. While watching, I learned that one should always have an emergency kit strapped to their back at all times. Did you know that if you fill an empty water bottle with snow, and then put the bottle in your coat next to your body, the snow will melt?  Yeah, me too. I also learned how to not make a snow shelter. Theirs was more like a lean-to.

The action sequences in the film were pretty cool, but after a while I got a little bored seeing ice crack again and again. And in one of the film’s climatic scenes, there’s a huge explosion, but you can so tell someone inserted some CGI fire over a still shot. Lame…

There were a couple funny lines in the movie:

“The lunatics are coming out of the asylum.”  Garber says this so clipped and eye-roly, that I replayed it a couple of times.   This is followed by Methane Man shouting at his team to “move your egghead asses!” Ha!

 Final Thoughts

If you are in the holiday spirit and wish to see some snow and earthquake stuff whilst learning a few survival facts and feeling a little bit of suspense (but not too much, mind you), this might be the movie for you. If you love Victor Garber, at least fast-forward to his scenes. If you are hoping for a full-on action movie where the fate of the world hangs by a thread, this ain’t that movie. I found out the hard way. Oh well, at least the dog survives.

Reuse, Remake, Recycle

“O for a Muse of fire, that would ascend
The brightest heaven of invention”

That’s right! I’m invoking some Shakespeare for this week’s entry, and like the Chorus from Henry V, I have implored the Muse for some inspiration regarding this week’s topic. I’m to that level of desperation.

It seems that almost every film out these days is a sequel or something based on a book or a remake of a movie that was based on a book or a TV show (sometimes vice versa). A film based on an original idea comes along on occasion, and everyone celebrates how refreshing and how….ORIGINAL the movie is. Wouldn’t it be great if more films were like that?

Yes, yes it would! But Hollywood, in my opinion, isn’t all about the art. It’s usually, mostly, about the money. Don’t get me wrong. There are true artists out there who bring so much substance and love to film that I gladly hand over my money to see their work. Martin Scorsese is one of these people. Danny Boyle, Tim Burton, and Christopher Nolan are other good examples.

Where was I? Oh yeah, money. If there’s money to be made, then Hollywood will find a way to make it. Remakes and films based on books seem like a sure-fire way to make some green. Now, I love books. I read all the time, and when a book I enjoyed is made into a film, the odds are good I’ll go see it. Making a movie based on something with an already present fan-base is a safe move. Look at the Harry Potter films or The Hunger Games. I won’t mention that other series, but you know which one I mean. Safe bet!

And what about that movie that came out X number of years ago that did really well (or in some cases, poorly) that’s still stuck in the public consciousness? People sure do feel nostalgic for that. I bet we could update it or (and this is my favorite) “re-imagine” it. Yeah!

I don’t mean to come across as flippant and oh so cynical about this. Okay, maybe a little. Remakes and movies based on other material are by no means new concepts. Take one of my favorite movies of all time: My Man Godfrey. The version I love stars William Powell and Carol Lombard. It’s one of the funniest movies ever. It was made in 1936 and then was remade in 1957 starring June Allyson and David Niven.

Now, there have been some some movies that have definitely benefitted from a Hollywood upgrade: Ocean’s Eleven was pretty cool.  The Thomas Crown Affair was a whole lot of fun.   But I keep thinking of Gus Van Sant’s blasphemous and totally narcissistic attempt at remaking Psycho. [Special Note: Psycho was based on a book] What ever was he thinking? Was it a social experiment or did he just really enjoy doing a shot-for-shot remake of a classic film? I have no idea.

This weekend, a remake of 1990’s Total Recall comes out. The original movie was loosely based on a Philip K. Dick short story, and I remember the movie being really cool at the time. While the story is still groovy, the movie now looks really dated. I’m guessing that’s part of the reason for a remake. With our special effect technology of just 20+ years since the original, we can make the future look really futuristic.

Len Wiseman is the director, and I’ve enjoyed his work with the Underworld  movies. Colin Farrell steps into the Arnold role, and I know he’ll do just fine. So I’m not worried about the movie doing well or anything. I just kind of wish there wasn’t a need for a remake. Did I feel a hole in my life from the lack of a newer version of Total Recall? Nope. Not one bit.

My suggestions for remakes (if they must be done) are these:

  1. Do not remake anything that looks like it could be in the category of Super Classic Movie. This would include Lawrence of Arabia, The Godfather, Taxi Driver, Casablanca, etc.
  2. If you must remake a film, then at least do the movie from a different angle. Don’t make the same movie twice.
  3. Do not make an “American” version of a successful foreign film. Most of us can read. Acquire some US distribution rights and promote the thing over here! I’m looking at you, Girl With The Dragon Tattoo.
  4. Try to remake obscure movies that could definitely go with some updating and improvement. Maybe the story that wasn’t any good then, is the perfect story to tell now.
  5. If you can’t find that obscure gem, only remake movies that folks might not have heard of for eons of time. I think that 1938’s Carefree  starring Ginger Rogers and Fred Astaire could be a fun modern day romantic comedy if it was done right.

Anyways, I’ve ranted and I hope I’ve made a few coherent points. In the beginning of this, I tossed some Shakespeare at you. It wasn’t for my inspirational needs. I invoked the Muse for Hollywood. Remakes are great if done right and if the demand is there. Films based on books or plays or TV shows are fun—again, if done right.  But nothing beats an original story. We’ve got to have some fresh blood here! We’ve got to find a deeper gene pool for the art of film! Bring me more Run Lola Run; Star Wars; The Three Colors Trilogy; Goonies; 28 Days Later; Amelie; Inception. Fetch me some Evil Dead; Heathers;; Labyrinth; Matrix; Grosse Point Blank; Shallow Grave. I demand The Usual Suspects!!!!

I know it’s in you, Hollywood!  Besides, if you make something new now, you’ll have new material to remake later. It’s a win-win situation.