August 27, 2008

Sherman: UP All Night -- "Bad Girls From Mars"

In my last review I found that I had prophetically typed the words “... I've found my stinker to beat.” As the self-fulfiller of prophecies that I am, I decided my next movie was to be “Werewolf in a Girls' Dormitory” -- "was" being the operative word, because the movie arrived broken, so I was forced to watch the other cinematic excrement that came via Netflix. It definitely had promise. The title alone gave off a repugnant stench of celluloid failure.

“Bad Girls From Mars” was the title and Fred Olen Ray was the man responsible -- the very same man who gave us “Star Slammer.” Suffice to say, my flesh crawled with anticipation. Oh, my friends... had I only heeded the warnings of my DVD player. Indeed, modern technology itself tried to save me from my hubris by refusing to play the movie by flashing a “Disc Error.”

Sadly, for you and me, the player eventually relented to its true master, which loosely translates into me wiping the disc on my shirt, blowing into the DVD player ala 1980s Nintendo revival technique and opening and closing the DVD tray numerous times. That exercise out of the way, it was time for the hell to begin... and boy did it. Try as I might, there was no way I could fight this surround-sound hell, even with my sidekick, Samuel Adams, by my side to numb the pain. It wasn't enough my friends, IT WASN'T ENOUGH!

What would you say if I were to tell you that there exists a movie that has an average of two tits every three seconds? Mind you, that's a rough estimate -- could be less, or possibly more, but we'll go with that estimate... and it doesn't even matter. IT DOESN'T MATTER! The movie is one giant black hole to anything remotely entertaining. I denounced humanity as a whole at least twice during this nightmarish experience.

I know, I know... you're saying: “Okay Jeremiah, we get it, it sucked, but what was the movie about?”

What was the movie about? Go fuck yourself, that's what the movie was about.

Sorry, I was little angry there... with myself more than anyone.

So where were we? Ah, the point of this torturous, tedious, hell. It is, in point of fact, a movie within a movie. (Ha-ha! Double the hell!) A bad, softcore-ish, sophomoric, Z-budget movie about making a bad, softcore-ish, sophomoric, Z-budget movie. As fate would doom it, the movie within the movie is entitled... (Anyone? Anyone? Bueller?) “Bad Girls From Mars.” That's right. And beyond that, it's a supposed sequel to Ed Wood's “Plan 9 From Outer Space” -- historically, one of the worst movies ever made.

To reiterate, the shit within the shit is actually a sequel to an even bigger pile of shit, throw it all together and... EWWWWWW!

The movie concerns itself with the fact that production of “Bad Girls From Mars” is fraught with peril, disaster, and muuurrder. The main actresses (actressi?) can't seem to keep their tops on... or their heads (wah-wahhhh). One of the precious few saving graces of the film is the amount of deaths it contains.

I know it's a movie, and I know those are actors playing a part, but I took a certain sadistic glee in imaging that the actors themselves were being slaughtered -- with the exception of Oliver Darrow, who plays director T.J. McMasters, and his secretary. They're the only two things about this movies that kept me from applying for a gun license. Darrow seems to be the only actor on screen with a modicum of talent and his secretary was the hottest girl in the movie, because she looked comparatively realistic. Then again, that could be the Boston Lager talking, so don't hold me to it.

I could tell you more about the movie, but I just don't care enough. Quite frankly, neither should you. Movies like this make baby Jesus cry. Fucking Piece Of Shit.

/ 5

Yours Until Hell Freezes Over,

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August 26, 2008

"Death Race" -- A Multi-Geek Review

“Death Race” isn't a film so much as it is pure, testosterone-fueled insanity. There are races, there's death and more racing, followed by more death, fighting, racing, death again and, oh yeah, plenty of what one might call “jiggly” women. They jiggle... all the time. In fact, I was actually kind of disheartened when I was informed that women really don't exit vehicles like they do in this movie.

It's hard to hate “Death Race” for the simple fact that "Death Race" knows it's "Death Race" and wastes little time in getting things started.

The opening informs us that the movie takes place in the future and that the economy has fallen due to massive inflation, thus causing crime rates to skyrocket. The result being an overcrowded prison system, run by private corporations who concoct ingenious plans for both decreasing the surplus population and lining their pockets with fat stacks of cash. Now, before some of you start to get interested in the possible social commentary, the movie quickly forgets this and focuses on Jason Statham's ethnicity which, for the unfamiliar, is full-blooded badass.

Statham plays Jensen Ames, a former race car driver turned steel mill worker who ends up losing his job when the plant closes down. Later on that night, a masked man breaks into his house, murders his wife and frames the Statham. Before you can say, “Thank goodness it wasn't a one armed man,” he's in prison, where Warden Hennessey (Joan Allen) forces him to race. On top of that, they want him to assume the identity of the incredibly popular and recently deceased masked driver, Frankenstein, what with him being the hero to both the prisoners and the population at large, ala, “Rollerball.”

We meet his pit crew, headed up by Coach (Ian McShane) who, while not really doing anything at all, manages to make everyone else look like little girls -- sort of like Samuel L. Jackson in “XXX.” We also meet Frankenstein's co-pilot/navigator, Case (Natalie Martineez). At this point, I would like to applaud the filmmaker Paul W.S. Anderson (Please God do NOT confuse him with the brilliant Paul Thomas Anderson, who is also not to be confused by the transcendent Wes Anderson) for filming his exploitative opus on what most assuredly is fire-proof celluloid. I say this because Natalie Martinez is, well... you know... she's hot.

Anyhow, suffice to say there are other racers as well, but the creme de le crème is the track itself, for in order to activate the vehicle guns and defense mechanisms (oil slick, smog, tacks and such) they have to run over these huge buttons in the ground -- a plot point that had me and the other Two Geeks making no end of Mario Kart jokes throughout the film.

See “Death Race,” don't see “Death Race,” ultimately it really makes no difference. It's a high-octane exploitation flick that exploits everything from your emotions, women, cars, violence, cheesy writing and just film in general. I'm fine with that, really. When you walk into a movie with a title like “Death Race” starring someone like Jason Statham you should only be looking for three things: death , racing and Statham kicking someone's ass to a pulp. This movie has all three of those things in mass quantities. It made me giggle.

Am I a better person after this movie? Maybe... but probably not. Yet I'm strangely okay with that.

/ 5

Yours Until Hell Freezes Over,

We need bad movies. And I don't mean bad like "X-Files: I Want to Believe" bad or last year's violently tragic "Dragon Wars" bad, I mean like Schwarzenegger bad. Notoriously, classically and endlessly, entertainingly bad.

The formula should be easily recognizable by now: the future sucks, government corporations control everything and people are placated by prepackaged, live-broadcast murder. "The Running Man" will always be my favorite example of the genre, but there are plenty more: "Rollerball," "Robot Jox" and, of course, "Death Race 2000."

While I hate to admit it, I've never seen the original "Death Race 2000" movie -- even though it combines gladiatorial vehicular homicide with the combined, insurmountable acting prowess of Sylvester Stallone and David Carradine under the dismal backdrop of a futuristic America in the far-off year 2000.

Damn... why haven't I seen that movie?

Anyway, it came as quite a shock when "Death Race" brought a lot more quality to the screen than this particular genre is used to. I mean, c'mon... Jason Statham has, at times, been a real actor (See: "Snatch" -- no jokes, please)... even if his emotional range is somewhat limited by the fact that he always looks kinda angry.

"Death Race" is an excellent use of a tub of popcorn and an hour and a half of your time. What do you want? If you can't appreciate a good, high-speed, action extravaganza... what are you doing at the movies? You must be the kind of people who didn't like "Grindhouse." Don't talk to me.

The plot is, as Sherman previously described, not overly cerebral, but the world is populated by so many cool characters and crazy situations that it hardly matters. The whole "Frankenstein" garage crew is pretty entertaining: particularly Ian McShane as the grizzled Coach and Frederick Koehler as Lists, the nerdy whiz-kid who makes me wonder why he was incarcerated in the first place. Joan Allen's Warden Hennessey is perfectly on-key as the icy, heartless master-villain and I spent the whole movie wanting Hennessey's sadistic lackey/prison guard Ulrich (Jason Clarke) to die horribly... so I guess that means he did his job, right?

The only real problem I had was the utter lack of Stallone and/or Carradine. Catch "Death Race" if you get a chance. It's fun.

3 out of 5

-Thad out

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August 18, 2008

"Tropic Thunder" -- A Nearly Three Geek Review

"Tropic Thunder" was packed with comedically brilliant performances. It was both totally stolen by the side characters and completely dominated by the principals.

I don't even understand how that works.

But the bigger point here is that I'm about to gush about a Ben Stiller movie -- this is huge!

Don't get me wrong... I don't harbor the same roiling animosity for young Stiller's work as I do for Will Ferrell's brand of "comedy," but let's just say that flicks like "Zoolander" and "Meet the Parents" have never come near drawing this many laughs out of me. It was fantastic.

Aside from starring, Ben Stiller also co-wrote, directed and called in every famous person he'd ever met to pop up in cameo roles, making "Tropic Thunder" into the definition of what a big-budget comedy should be.

The fake trailers and commercials at the opening of the film were almost worth the trip by themselves, if it wasn't for the rest of the movie. After the strong opening, the movie may take a few minutes to fully win you over, but there's one particular explosion in the jungle that basically lines up the rest of the movie as a home-run hit.

As for the main guys: Stiller's vapid action star character, Tugg Speedman, manages to come off as endearingly idiotic, rather than just the regular type, and actually grows through the course of the movie... sort of; Robert Downey Jr. steals as many scenes as he can get his hands on as the over-the-top and obviously mentally unbalanced "serious actor," Russell Crowe Kirk Lazarus; Jack Black makes drug withdrawal even funnier than it already is as fart-comedian Jeff Portnoy; Brandon T. Jackson has to deal with Downey Jr.'s insane attempts to bond with him as sell-out rapper Alpa Chino; and Jay Baruchel plays the other guy... whose character name escapes me. He's great, though. Basically the straight-man and, considering who he's surrounded by, that's a helluva load to carry.

And we're not even to the brilliant bit-players yet -- and I mean that with all due deference. How can we even hope to list them all? Matthew McConaughey becomes the best agent an actor could ever hope for in the role of Rick Peck, "Pineapple Express's" Danny McBride blows up everything in sight as Cody, the half-cocked pyrotechnician; Steve Coogan seems to be teasing us about his upcoming "Hamlet 2" headline role as the movie-within-the-movie's director, Damien Cockburn; and Tom Cruise just... man, you gotta see it.

The Summer of Adventure downshifted into a roaring Late-Summer of Comedy. Good comedy, even. Between "Tropic Thunder" and "Pineapple Express," there is literally no reason to consider seeing "Disaster Movie" whenever it comes out.

4 out of 5

-Thad out.

The most amazing thing about “Tropic Thunder”is that it's directed by Ben Stiller. I tell you this because “Tropic Thunder” is a solid movie. In fact, I'd go so far as to say it's just as good as “Pineapple Express.” But if you want a definitive "Which is better?" answer, all I can say is it depends entirely on my mood.

Both movies require a basic knowledge of movie cliches for their particular genres. “Pineapple Express” had action movies, while Stiller's “Tropic Thunder” covers the whole Hollywood machine. The more familiar you are with how seriously Hollywood takes itself, the more you will appreciate the genius of this movie. In retrospect, it shares a lot in common with the brilliant, yet under-appreciated, “Bowfinger.”

I shan't be going into detail about the plot. If you want to see “Tropic Thunder,” you already know what it's about. Also, I don't feel like giving you exposition. Anyhow, everyone does an outstanding job. The movie takes some odd left turns, but they do so with aplomb and talent (Critic speak for "really good twists").

It should come as no surprise to anyone that Robert Downey Jr., as Kirk Lazarus, does a fantastic job. The person who really surprised me was Ben Stiller. I'm not a huge Stiller fan. Oh, I like him alright, it's just that his presence in a movie is not a factor in my decision making process when it comes to seeing said movie or not.

Suffice to say, this is his most enjoyable work.

Yet it's the side characters that steal most of the thunder. Danny McBride -- who some of you may remember as Saul's supplier, Red, from “Pineapple Express” -- and “Undeclared” alum Jay Baruchel. Both of whom manage to upstage their counterparts: McBride with Nolte and Baruchel with, well... an amazingly talented ensemble. I guess upstage is the wrong word. More like they glean laughs from their fellows. In a way, that's what's most surprising: it's an ensemble piece.

There are cameo's galore, with big-name actors lending their times to give you fully fleshed-out side characters. I will
say only two things: 1.)How can anyone not like Matthew McConaughey? Seriously, he's like a stoner version of Tom Hanks. 2.) JENNIFER LOVE HEWITT!

For those of you don't know me: before there was Salma Hayek, Natalie Portman, Scarlett Johansson, Anne Hathaway, Tyra Banks, Penolpe Cruz, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Christina Ricci, Selma Blair, Summer Glau, Eliza Dushku, Chraisma Carpenter, Kristen Bell, Lauren Ghram, Billie Piper, etc., etc., etc., there was the ever-lovely Jennifer Love Hewitt.

The moment I saw her on screen, I clapped -- [Warning: "Dark Knight" plot info ahead] and I haven't clapped that hard since a certain police commissioner revealed that he was, in fact, NOT dead. I know... it's a sad, lonely, pathetic life I lead. Could be worse. I could be the guy who reads the writings of said sad, pathetic, lonely guy.

Ouch! Did that hurt!?

Back to the business at hand: “Tropic Thunder” is a really good movie. It's part of a trend I'm hoping to see more of: funny comedies. Common sense dictates that the phrase is redundant and assumed -- but take into account the numerous, tragically unfunny “American Pie” straight-to-video sequels; or the (Insert Genre Description Here) Movie movies; or, sadly, even the National Lampoon offerings that have been thrown at us in the past few years and you'll see what I mean.

Thankfully, movies like “Pineapple Express” and “Tropic Thunder” are around to reassure us that it's okay to laugh and be stupid while still maintaining some competence, not just in film-making, but comedy in general.

Thank you, Ben Stiller, for continiuing this streak. God speed, Speedman.

/ 5 Hewitts

Yours Until Hell Freezes Over,

[Update to come(?)]

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August 15, 2008

Sherman: Up All Night -- "Star Slammer"

Today, I'll be shielding you from Fred Olen Ray's “Star Slammer” -- otherwise known as "The Adventures of Taura Prison Ship Star Slammer."

First off, let's look at that title. I know what you're thinking: there should be a colon, a semi-colon or at the very least a comma there, but no... that's the title that flashes onto the screen. The last part is the real beauty: "Prison Ship Star Slammer." Is the title just being redundant, or is the prison ship named Star Slammer? Admittedly having a prison ship called “Star Slammer” is both stupid and redundant. In fact, I'm betting even money that the makers of this movie don't even know or, for that matter, care. The feeling is mutual.

It's hard to believe that we're only three movies into “Sherman: Up All Night” and already I've found my stinker to beat. Say what you want about “Time Barbarians” and “Zapped,” they at least had a particle of entertainment value to them, if only by sheer accident. Then along comes “Star Slammer,” a futuristic, women-in-prison movie, without so much as the obligatory shower scene. O tempora! O mores!

The plot, and I use the term loosely here, has Taura (Sandy Brooke), a miner of some sort, being framed for the murder of a priest and arrested for disfiguring a government official who tried to rape her. How about that, folks -- we started with a movie that had rape, went to a movie that only implied rape, and now we have a movie that merely attempted rape. Things are looking up.

But sadly, the movie doesn't end there.

After arriving on the prison ship, Taura is subjected to abuse from her fellow prisoners as they initiate her into the cell block. She's then taken to meet the warden, Warden Exene (Myra Gant), a busty dominatrix who enjoys her job far more than anyone enjoys this movie. Taura is promptly groped and propositioned by the warden -- so the movie at least has the decency to adhere to some of the time-honored rules of women-in-prison movies.

From there on, it's nothing but trials and tribulations for our heroine and her fellow inmates, who she manges to befriend after showing she can hold her own. Then, wouldn't you know it, half-way through the movie a new crew member is brought aboard and it's none other than the government-employed, disfigured, rape-attempting dynamo: Bantor (Ross Hagen)!

Long story mercifully short, the prisoners plan an escape, all out “war” breaks out on the ship and all the bad guys get their comeuppance.

The only kind thing I can say for the movie is that it single handedly employed the entire Midget Actors Guild. I counted at least eight midgets -- though it may have been the same two midgets over and over. That, and Sandy Brooke really has no problem baring her chest monkeys*. There's even a scene where she changes out of a bloodied shirt while staring directly into the camera in a bizarrely unsettling fashion. I'm not gonna lie, she's got nice..."talent." Her sweater vipers**, the midgets and the over-the-top-of-Mt. Everest performance by Myra Gant as the Warden are the only reasons this movie gets anything more than a half Hayek from me.

At the end of this movie, they tell you watch the further adventures of Taura in “Chain Gang Planet.” I don't like being threatened, Mr. Ray, and I'll thank you if you would simply return the 81 and ¾ minutes of my life and back away slowly, without touching any film equipment.

I deducted the amount of time I was entertained by jiggling breasts, barely covered asses and unflinchingly bad performances.



/ 5

Yours Until Hell Freezes Over,

*Editor's Note: Chest monkeys?
**Another Editor's Note: Sweater vipers?

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August 14, 2008

"Pineapple Express" -- (Almost) Three Geek Review

"Pineapple Express" is two things: 1) One of the best stoner movies since "Half Baked" or "Harold and Kumar," and 2) One of the funniest action movies ever made. The writing super-team of Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg, the same dynamic duo that brought you one of the greatest modern-day teen sex comedies in "Superbad," got together again to parody/pay homage to the action genre of the '80s and '90s.

The plot is actually quite straight-forward, as we've come to expect in true action movies. Dale Denton (Seth Rogen) is a process server who likes to get high... a lot. After visiting his dealer, Saul Silver (James Franco), to get a very special blend of pot -- the titular Pineapple Express -- he goes to make his last stop for the day, one Ted Jones (Gary Cole). While outside his target's home, he decides to light up and, soon after, witnesses Ted and a police officer killing a man. Mayhem and hilarity ensue while Dale and Saul try to outrun and outsmart Ted and his cohorts, one of them being the crooked cop, Carla (Rosie Perez).

The genius of the movie is how the director, David Gordon Green, realizes that not everybody in the audience is a stoner, so there are plenty of just great gags in and of themselves. One example is the conversation Dale has with Red (Danny R. McBride), Saul's dealer, about karma and the possibility that, when you die doing a heroic act, you come back "as a dragon or fuckin' Jude Law."

The style and comedy is very much that of “Superbad.” It's a brilliant mixture of conversationalist humor, sight gags and people doing stupid shit. When the movie is not being funny, it at least has the courtesy to be an actual movie and deal with plot issues, which is more than I can say for the other Judd Apatow produced movie in theaters right now -- “Step-Brothers” -- which has the audacity to, when not being funny, just hit you over the head with the joke until it tires itself out... and then just goes on to another unfunny and/or uncomfortable attempt at humor.

“Pineapple Express” doesn't ask you to care for it's characters. You do that all on your own. By the end, you find yourself branding the hapless duo "lovable idiots." There was nary a scene where I was bored. I will admit, at the beginning I was a little afraid, that it would pull a “Step-Brothers,” having put all the best scenes in the previews. However, I can proudly assure you that the best scenes are found solely in the movie. Everyone does a fantastic job, from Rogen down to Kevin Corrigan, the cardigan sweater-vest wearing hit-man and his partner Matheson, played by Craig Robinson. The real stand-out performance is surprisingly not Rogen, but James Franco. Franco takes an idiotic, stoner lay-about and manages to, god help me, find the humanity in him. The chemistry between Franco and Rogen is a joy to watch -- particularly in a scene where Dale tries to explain to Saul that the car battery is dead.

All in all, I enjoyed myself. If you liked “Superbad” and were less than impressed with “Step-Brothers,” then you'll love this. If you hated “Superbad”....well I'm just going to stop right there and say I almost don't even wanna know you. Suffice to say, “Pineapple Express” left me feeling good, which is all I ask from stoner/buddy/action/comedies.

/ 5

Yours Until Hell Freezes Over,

"Ghostbusters" will always be my favorite movie, but my love of movies can be blamed mostly on "Clerks" -- and don't worry, this is going somewhere. It wasn't the pervasive profanity or "Star Wars" references that locked that movie in my mind forever, it was the pitch-perfect portrayal of friendship between Dante and Randal. They weren't just movie people, they were people.

"Pineapple Express" has that same, special reality to it. Main men Dale Denton and Saul Silver feel like they just stumbled out of a convention of People I Knew (or At Least Kind-of Knew) in College. They're average, inept guys thrust into a spectacular situation. The classic, film noir "wrong man" plot hasn't looked this hilarious since "The Big Lebowski" turned it on its ear.

The movie is like a long string of individually brilliant moments combine to make some sort of theatrical Voltron, here to defend us from bland, samey comedy. There are scenes so pure that I may never be able to get them out of my head, such as Dale and Saul sword-fighting with sticks as they wander through the woods... who doesn't immediately do that when confronted with an aptly long twig?

Okay... maybe that's just another one of my neurotic obsessions, but it ties the film to whatever weirdness qualifies as reality for me.

Also, Sherman was right about James Franco. He completely runs away with this movie. Being a giant nerd, I was really impressed with Franco in "Spider-man 3" -- y'know, the one that everybody else didn't like. The amnesia-induced friendship between Harry Osborn and Peter Parker was what really kept me on board -- if you can't tell, friendship is something I love to see done well in movies.

Oh yeah, and there are awesome car chases, gunfights and explosions.

This is what comedy should be. The ignorant thought-criminals behind the endless string string of god-awful parody movies should be taking notes. "Pineapple Express," like "Shawn of the Dead" and "Hot Fuzz," not only pokes fun at various genres, but it also fits perfectly within them. It's an action/comedy that is both packed with action and consistently hysterical.

"Pineapple Express" has once again restored my faith in film comedies: sharp writing, honest performances and the ability to be stupid without being dumb... or is it the other way around? The endless retreads of the "[Fill in the Blank] Movie" series had about broken me, but here I was laughing in a theater again. It felt good.

See "Pineapple Express." And if later this month, some strange, cosmic radiation causes you to consider seeing that assuredly abysmal "Disaster Movie,"* just see "Pineapple Express" again.

4 out of 5

-Thad out

*Yeah, I know... I'm judging before seeing. Let's just say the previous evidence is not in their favor and leave it at that.

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August 12, 2008

Sherman: Up All Night -- "Zapped"!

What would you do if you were granted telekinetic powers by some accidental lab explosion? How would you deal with the ability to move objects, and affect physical reality with a mere thought? Would you try to submit the entire human race to your will, and appoint yourself as new the World Overlord? Or, if not the world, at least Australia? Maybe you'd theorize that you're the next logical step in evolution, that there might be others out there like yourself and therefore use your abilities to find them and help them cope with their new powers? Would you harness your powers and don a mask and cape and come to the aid of all those in need as a super-powered hero of sorts?

Well, Robert J. Rosenthal and Bruce Rubin got together and wrote a movie about what would happen if a high schooler got these powers. So, what would happen if Professor Xavier got his powers by accident... in high school? Apparently, as this movie shows us, he'd be a brilliant putz and use his powers for nothing at all.

Barney Springboro (Scott Baio) is the shy nerd of Blankity Blank-Blank High. He's the boy genius who only wears glasses when he's in the lab -- presumably because, although he's usually the only one in there (with the exception of his close friends who already know how smart he is) it makes him look smarter. Anyhow, Barney is quite the little Einstein, even has a little framed picture of the dude on his lab wall. He has nearly free reign over the high school's science lab -- again, presumably because he's the only science student in the entire school. We never see anyone else with so much a science book, or even loitering within ten feet of the lab, excepting the aforementioned friends.

Let's digress a bit and talk about those close friends for a sec. There's Peyton Nichols (Willie Ames) as Barney's loyal sidekick and fellow societal outcast. The problem is, he's not really. I mean he is in the movie, but consider this: he's cocky, smiles all the time, wears a letter jacket as if it's part of his anatomy, drives a nice car, his parents are rich and he plays on the baseball team... a sports activity. Oh, and he's also the school paper's photographer -- never mind that he uses the photography angle to snap pictures of girls. So, in essence, why is he not popular? He has all the ear-marks of a jock, even down to the way he treats women. By all rights he should be popular. The only reason I could subscribe his lack of popularity to was that he was a giant douche bag.

Seriously, Peyton may well be one of the silver screens' biggest douche nozzles. Case in point: he finally bags the girls of his dreams, Jane (Heather Thomas), and in order to fake maturity -- that's right, I said fake maturity -- he spins lie after lie to Jane, who apparently finds "maturity" a turn-on. So, Peyton lies about all these adult problems he's facing. Long story short: she believes him, they have sex and he photographs it! Later on in the movie, when faced with his college rival for Jane's affection, he whips out photos of the act to supposedly show that there are no hard feelings, all while smiling this giant “I'm a complete choad!” smile.

He even goes so far as to cajole Barney into the seedy worlds of drugs and gambling. Well... growing weed on school grounds and cheating at the roulette wheel on a college campus. To top it all off, he talks Barney into cheating at their last ball game. Barney uses his powers to have them win by... a slight amount, actually. Nothing astronomical. Like, two.

Peyton aside, there's the baseball coach, Dexter Jones (Scatman Crothers), who may well be the saving grace of this film. There's never a dull scene when Scatman's involved. In fact, he's the reason Barney has his powers. Dexter accidentally spilt some of his hidden stash of Jack Daniels into a miracle-gro-like concoction of Barney's. Said beaker falls over after he leaves and BANG!

More on that later, though.

Later in the movie, Barney and Peyton's stash is discovered by the faculty, so Barney and Bernadette (Felice Schachter) -- his female friend who evolves into his girlfriend -- throw the weed into the school furnace. Scatman catches them, assumes they were doing what teenagers usually do in school's basements and gives Barney a wink and advises him to take her somewhere nicer next time. He then proceeds to open up the furnace, only to inhale the copious amount of weed smoke. Ohhhh, the Wackiness!

Seriously though, he has a hallucination that involves Einstein and him horseback riding, which turns into a them being chased by the coach's wife in a chariot... and she shoots hams at them.

I bring the bit about Einstein up because there's an interesting tidbit involving the actor portraying him: Jan Leighton. According to IMDb, he is recorded in the Guinness Book of World Records of 1998 as having portrayed 3,395 roles in theater, film and in television since 1951. Holy fuck, man!

This brings us Bernadette. She is what was known in the movies of the 80's as the "ugly nerd." Or, what is known to anyone with half a brain as the other hot chick in the movie. Bernadette is the voice of reason, not to mention the obvious love interest. She realizes how much of a tool Peyton is and endeavors to enlighten Barney on that fact. For being such a bright kid, Bareny is a fucking idiot. I realize that's part of 'fun': “Don't you see? He's sooo smart, but he can't see what's right in front of him!” Yeah, I get it. But Scott Baio is no Kurt Russell, and Kurt Russell was a fucking genius in high school and college (that joke gets no explanation -- if you don't get it, then telling would make no difference).

Back to the movie: Barney uses his power, as I've stated before, to help his baseball team win by a slight margin, cheat a college roulette wheel, makes his model of the Starship Enterprise fly and manipulates his ventriloquist dummy in such a way as to convince his mother that he is possessed. I know, I know... you're wondering about the nudity right? Let me tell you, for a movie advertising itself as a teenage sex romp there was surprisingly very little nudity. In fact Barney only rips open like, I dunno... three shirts with his powers. All of them with the intent to humiliate.

And then there's the end.

The end consists of Barney realizing the Peyton is an asshole, Bernadette is the girl for him and that the whole school must pay -- Carrie style! Okay, not really. He causes a huge gust of wind blow through the auditorium, somehow tearing everybody's clothes off. It's all fun and games, with everybody trying to cover up their various parts, until we see a few groups of big guys grab some of the hotter girls -- girls who scream in PROTEST -- and the guys just laugh as the camera pulls away. Even Jane, Peyton's “girl” has her clothes ripped off and she runs away. Peyton turns to the camera does a Groucho Marx stance, twirling an imaginary cigar, smiles a creepy smile and hollers in the most oily voice ever: “Ohhh, Jane!” Then he takes off after her. So really, the movie ends in a giant, orgiastic, implied rape scene.

Barney gets carried away, bringing out the fire hose and accidentally bonking himself on the head. Uh-oh, powers are gone. Guess he'll have to go back to being a normal kid now, you know... like he was before when had his powers! As he and Bernadette leave the multiple sex crime scene -- a.k.a the gymnasium -- a weird purplish light envelops the two
and they take flight over the city landscape. Apparently, Barney lied, He's more powerful now than ever! That means he's probably going to... do absolutely nothing. Barney is a putz.

Despite the best efforts of the screenwriters, the director (Robert J. Rosenthal), Scott Baio, the douchness of William Ames, a plot where a kid gets amazing powers and does nothing with them and the outright disturbing prom scene with it's uber-misogynistic undertones, “Zapped!” was still better than “Time Barbarians.”

Still, what in the holy hell was with the purple forcefield in the end? Fucking Movie!

/ 5

Yours Until Hell Freezes Over,

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August 07, 2008

"The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor" -- Movie Review

I don't know if you've noticed, but 'mummy' is a ridiculous word -- and hearing it over and over through the course of a near to two-hour movie doesn't do it any favors. That being said, the newest entry in "The Mummy" series manages to be surprisingly entertaining, despite it's nominal hangups.

The previews for "The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor" (man, I love long and overwrought titles) didn't do much to drum up excitement. Maybe it was the massive amount of CG and various over-the-top whatnot. In any event, it turned out there was nothing to worry about. Well, not much.

After some exposition explaining the life, accomplishments, betrayal and death of the titular Dragon Emperor (Jet Li), the film follows the continuing adventures of Rick O'Connell (Brendan Fraser) and his lovely wife Evelyn (Maria Bello, formerly played by Rachel Weisz) -- or rather, their lack of continuing adventures. Turns out, retired adventure heroes are pretty amusing to watch. So, as the husband and wife deal with the boredom of living in a giant mansion filled with priceless Egyptian treasures, their son Alex (Luke Ford) helps unearth the lost tomb of, well... you probably get it by now.

Parents come to China, Emperor is resurrected as a super-powered, undead man-monster and a fun time is had by all. Car chases, explosions and gunfights become the name of the game pretty fast, and for good reason.

You may know the director, Rob Cohen, from his more recent movies like "Stealth," "XXX" and "The Fast and the Furious." Story takes a backseat to action, and it's better off for it. They're not exactly breaking new artistic ground here. The love story between Alex and the mysterious Lin (Isabella Leong) is your pretty standard action movie romance, and not nearly as entertaining as watching Rick and Evelyn do the whole married, former adventurers thing.

Then, of course, we have Jet Li as the villain and Michelle Yeoh as the immortal witch Zi Yuan, who cursed the Emperor in the first place. Awesome people, and they both do solid work, but we've seen them in masterpieces... and this isn't one.

Then again, Jet Li was in last year's abysmal action flick "War," so I guess it could always be worse.

The effects are, for the most part, supercool -- especially when it comes to the mummified, monstrous, living-statue form of the Emperor. The shape-shifting stuff they throw in later on isn't quite as solid, but then there's the other living statues, the undead army and the gang of yeti... so I'll let it be.

All in all, it was fun. A cool, refreshing return to entertainment after the train-wreck that was the second "X-Files" movie. Not a must-see-in-theaters affair, but a decent popcorn flick and definitely worthy of a small screen viewing once it rolls out into the home market.

3 out of 5

-Thad out.

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August 04, 2008

Sherman: Up All Night -- "Time Barbarians"

The first movie for the Sherman: Up All Night marathon was a crap-tastic crapterpiece. It's not often one sees a move like this: part fantasy, part historic epic and part retarded. Well, stupid anyway. Calling this movie retarded is an insult to retarded people. This movie had everything one looks for: tits, big burly men who look like ex-members of Poison (complete with thin, leather man-bras), the classic battle of Good vs. Evil and time travel... with a helping dose of misogyny and "dialogue" that attempts to be Shakespearean and succeeds beyond expectations -- that is if you thought Shakespeare might have been a re-re.

“Time Barbarians” is more than just a cheesy title; it's also just damn misleading. What little time travel there is doesn't happen until the last thirty minutes or so, which means we're forced to endure a hellish hour of the film-maker's misguided revenge-fantasy fulfillment against those who have done him wrong, which I gauge to be the entire human race.

On behalf on my humanoid brethren, may I just ask the filmmaker, writer/director, Joseph John Barmettler (If that's a pseudonym, then sweet Jesus you can't even make up a good fake name? And if it isn't, well... you have my condolences sir): "Dude!? Why?” The amount of things wrong with this movie are nearly too numerous for me to list, but we all know that won't stop me from trying my damnedest.

I'm getting ahead of myself, though.

First things first: before man became (*cough*) civilized, we were once a roving band of hunters and gatherers, split up into an endless number of tribes, each led by their own king -- unless you live in this film, where there are really only two, each consisting of about a dozen members.

There are, as in any tale involving these things, good tribes and evil tribes. Easily told apart by, well... the evil barbarians have a sort of Three Stooges cry, tend to do this weird posturing, and also wear make up. Plus, the main bad guy -- and his two henchmen -- wear clothes, shirts and pants. The good barbarians strut around like proud peacocks in their loin cloths, and posture in a stoic, manly style. Their battle cry is a succinct grunt.

The king of the good barbarians, at least of the tribe that the movie concerns itself with, is Doran (Deron McBee). He rules his tribe with the help of a magical crystal, given to his grandfather by the Wizard (Ingrid Vold), who may or may not be an ex-playmate... or a future one, if she's into the whole time traveling deal.

If she wore that sheer blouse when she gave Dorna's grandfather the crystal, I'd hand it down to each generation too...


Sorry, got a little side tracked there. So, there's Doran -- the big, burly roid-zilla type, with long flowing blond locks, and the previously stated man-bra -- and there's his queen Lystra (Joann Ayers): a blonde bombshell, complete with a shammi bikini and that hereditary, magic crystal, which she wears like a chastity belt. No joke, she walks around with a giant crystal protruding from her... Come on, it's too fucking easy... much like Lysrta is. OOOOOOHH! BUUURRRNN!

Moving on, the bad barbarian, Mandrak (Daniel Martine), while not as huge, is still pretty fuck-off huge, with long flowing, black hair. Ah, the simple, subtle visual metaphor for evil. Black. Even his shirt is black. Why is the bad guy the only one fully clothed, though? I'm not sure what Barmettler is trying to say. Maybe that man has become more savage as he has become more civilized -- that progress has actually caused man to regress? Hmmmm...

Long story short: Mandrak kidnaps Lystra, rapes her, kills her and steals the crystal, thereby accidentally transporting himself and his henchman into present day L.A. Doran meets the (hubba-hubba) wizard that gave his family the crystal and she sends him “ a land called, 'The Future'” to get her crystal back and kill Mandrak, for shits and giggles.

After arriving in present-day L.A. -- and by present day, of course, I mean 1990 -- he happens upon a pretty news reporter doing a segment on the rising crime in the city who is being molested/and or sexually abused by a street-gang led by the worlds biggest Jerome “Curly” Howard fanatic. And so, Doran does battle with the hapless gang, Conan style... if Conan was a hair band enthusiast.

The ravishing, roving reporter is Penny (Joann Ayers... again) is an almost drop dead twin of Lystra. Of course, none of this escapes Doran's Columbo-like gaze. And, of course, the pretty Penny finds the oiled up ex-Great White drummer an absolute dream come true. Yada, yada, Mandrak and Doran “do battle,” Doran with his He-Man-esque sword (with the ability to phase in and out of existence) and Mandrak with his... tommy gun?

Mother fucker bought, literally, a car full of illegal fire arms... and he chose a goddamn tommy gun? Damn it, Bartmettler!

This movie blows. It was produced by Troma, one of the last truly independent Independent film companies out there. In the past, Troma has given us some talented film makers (see: James Gunn, writer/director of “Slither”) as well as some truly bizarre original ideas: "Sgt. Kabuki," "Toxic Avenger," etc.

On the DVD there's an extra about Troma Dance Festival, which is Troma's version of Sundance film festival. Admittance of film are 100% free, and so is attendance. I bring this up because on this special feature they show a man yelling at the camera: “Give art back to the people! Now! We've waited long enough.”

After watching “Time Barbarians,” I'm half tempted to wander up to the “people,” take the art out of their hands -- while saying “yoink” of course -- and then hitting them over the head with a rolled up newspaper while yelling, “NO! BAAAAD 'PEOPLE'!”

I'll give “Time Barbarians” one thing, though; when the credits started to roll, I had a wicked urge to go listen to some Scorpion.

Fucking movie.

/ 5

Yours Until Hell Freezes Over,


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August 03, 2008

Batman III: Rumors, Hopes and Fears

"The Dark Knight" was awesome. Really awesome. It blew everything related to comics and movies right out of the water. It's how a comic book movie should be made -- just look at the reviews and the box office sales. Breaking just about every record in the history of movies should expedite the greenlighting of the third one... I just hope it can live up to the hype.

According to internet speculation, the film makers already have their eyes set on the villains for the next movie and who will play them. First on the list, we have Phillip Seymour Hoffman as the Penguin. This is a brilliant choice, if they take the character in the right way.

We all remember Danny DeVito as the Penguin in "Batman Returns": a short, pudgy, disfigured creature that comes out of the sewer to RUN FOR MAYOR. Really? No offense to Danny DeVito or Tim Burton but what the hell? This seems a little far fetched, even for Batman -- still, Lex Luthor was the President at one point in the DC Universe.

This time, they need to lose the wierdo mutant and go for what the Penguin really is: a short, pudgy criminal mastermind with a big, crooked nose and a penchant for dressing up. As far as looks go, think of a heavyset Jewish guy with a broken nose. And forget about face biting and raw fish. He should be as much of a threat to Bruce Wayne as he is to Batman. Have him at the rich parties, mixing it up with politicos and socialites. As far as the crime goes, he steps into the (recently vacant) shoes of the mafia don of Gotham and runs it like a business. No more getting "high" on scarecrow gas, he deals with the Colombians. He changes gambling from street hustling and backroom poker matches into white collar bookies and "Charity" events that draw in the rich and elite. Prostitution moves from streetwalkers to high-end call-girls from escort services. Plus he stops the practice of killing clean cops. Sure the occasional officer has an accident, but they are mostly dirty cops who turn. And if you get caught, you pay your time and he thanks you for it.

All of a sudden the mob is not such a bad thing, and the public starts to notice this. The "White Knight" Harvey Dent's legacy is starting to fade and Batman is still public enemy #1. Yet, behind all this, they don't notice Gotham turning back into what it was when Bruce's parents were killed. Murders in the ghettos, crime and looting running rampant over areas not able to pay "protection" money and the public will blame this on the inevitable crusade Gordon has against the Mob.

Meanwhile the Riddler (who is rumored to be Johnny Depp if the studio has their way) is off leaving vague clues at the crime scenes he caused. He is not very dangerous, just nighttime bank jobs or jewelry stores but Batman is has the Joker fresh on his mind and the Riddler just gives off the vibe. He dresses weird, doesn't play by the rules, he may not even be in it for the money as much as the fame, or whatever joy he will get in outsmarting the cops, and Batman.

The most unrealistic rumor, born of a comment from Julie Newmar, is that Angelina Jolie would be the purr-fect (I am sorry, I had to) Catwoman. This is wrong, and she is some sort of wrong person for suggesting it. Go Christina Ricci as Sherman pointed out to me or, for the Whedon, fans Charisma Carpenter. (Halle Berry is the Auto-fail!) And forget the creepy cat-lady secretary or mild-mannered teacher. That's bullshit.

You have it set up: Selina Kyle is a high-priced call-girl who refuses to join the Mob's brothel so she gets busted and then blacklisted by some crooked cops. So, to get back at the mob and rich men who turned on her she cons her way into lavish parties and makes off with priceless heirlooms and such. She also takes a page from the Batman and dresses the part of a "cat" burglar. Who am I kidding? Just use the Catwoman from "The Long Halloween."

Still, these are just the ramblings of a bored nerd at 5:30 in the morning. Whatever Nolan does will be great, as long as the studio doesn't make him add Ewoks or something.

Whatever, I need to sleep.


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August 02, 2008 The Way of the Future To Get Here

Not much to say other than that!

Nothing is changing; you can still find us here -- or on myspace, if we ever decide to update there -- but now you just have to type in to get here.

Nifty, huh?

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Sherman: Up All Night

While perusing Thad's review of the new “X-Files” movie, I realized something. Well, “realized” is the wrong word -- it wasn't a revelation so much as a dawning comprehension kind of thing. We here at Three Geek Review have more than done our part in so far as to show you the way towards great, or at the very least decent, entertainment. What we have not done is warn you of the world's steaming piles of cinematic shit, the failures of celluloid.

Now one could ask, “Why should you be forced to watch the movies even we don't want to see?” or, “Why would you go out of your way to watch a bad movie?” The answers are varied, but the one that I'll deal with first is simply this: Perspective.

When you have, as we do, such a steady diet of fun, masterful (and sometimes average) works of film, you tend to loose sight of how good they truly are. Without a reminder of how bad a movie could be, you could end up trashing a rather decent movie just because it's not a masterpiece. Like when all the critics pissed on M. Night. Flag on the play!

Another reason is that bad moves sometimes are just plain fun. I've seen “Tango & Cash,” “Commando” and “Sorority House Massacre II” several times -- not because they're that good, but because they are, not just bad, but hilariously bad. Some movies transcend awful and reach that pinnacle of cheesy schlock, that nirvana of bad film making, so perfect for midnight viewings.

Not to mention how sometimes one can accidentally uncover a truly remarkable film, maybe not one that's universally lauded by all, but one that, for some reason or other, tickles you -- your own personal “Buckaroo Banzai” or “Big Trouble In Little China.”

Don't hold out hope that any of that will happen this month, though. I've done my homework; no little masterpieces are going to be sneaking their way into this marathon. Of all the movies I've selected, none of the have above a 2 star rating on Netflix.

Those of you who grew up during the 90's may remember a little television gem: “USA Up All Night” with Gilbert Godfried and every teenage-boy's dream come true, Rhonda Shear. “Up All Night” went to great pains to show you the classics like “Zapped Again!,” “Bikini Summer II,” “Hardbodies,” “Toxic Avenger” or the ever-popular “Meatballs 4.” Movies that could not be defined, by anyone's standards, as good. Yet they were perfect for what they were: pure, unadulterated, raging piles of crap made to further fuel the rampant onslaught of puberty.

Sweet Jesus, were they terrible. Those of you who live in the Kansas City, MO area may remember “Ray Adams' Late Night Drive-In” Saturday nights on channel 62, or hell... the channel 62 Saturday Matinée, where “Running Man,” “Predator” and “The 'Burbs” reigned supreme.

In honor of USA and 62, and to truly do my service as your online movie critic, I will be dedicating the month of August to shit...ty movies. It shall be christened: “Sherman: Up All Night” -- sadly without Rhonda, Gilbert and (sigh...) Ray Adams.

There will be terrible action, horrific teen sex-comedies [Editor's Note: Other than "Superbad," is there any other kind?" --T] and mind-numbingly bad sci-fi adventures. Oh, the hell we will endure! Still... it'll help keep things in perspective.

At least that's what I'll be telling myself as I try to slog through this boondoggle.

Yours Until Hell Freezes Over,

P.S. -- For those of you who may wonder what brought this sudden bout of professionalism on, all I can say is: “Blame Kloiber.”

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