Thursday, June 9, 2011

PCP on DVD - Hyperviolent 6-pack

Time for your next hit of PCP:  Pop Culture Panorama.  Due to circumstances beyond my control, I have developed about a 60 movie backlog of films to review, of films I’ve watched over the past couple months.  I’ve had enough time to watch the movies and jot down some observations, but not enough time until now to actually write the reviews.  So, I will be doing shorter than normal reviews of these films until I am caught back up, in convenient multi-packs of movies by genre.  Today I’ll be tackling 6 extremely violent movies I recently caught on DVD.  These are guy movies through and through due to their extreme levels of violence. 

Predators – 2010; Rated R.  107 minutes.  Starring Adrien Brody, Laurence Fishburne, Topher Grace, Alice Braga, & Danny Trejo.  My rating:  7 out of 10.

The original Predator with Arnold is a classic, but the sequels, especially the crappy Alien vs Predator films, never could live up to the original.  This one does what it can to reinvent the original, while still staying true to what makes it good:  lots of guns, violence, and action.  Instead of taking place in a jungle on Earth, the film takes place on an alien world.  The predators abducted killers from all over the globe and transport them to a planet that is basically one large hunting preserve for them.  It is a neat concept, and it allows the film to expand on the Predator mythology as well, introducing new varieties of Predators, new alien technologies, and other alien species as well, such as their hunting “dogs.”  Adrien Brody is actually surprisingly capable of holding his own as an action actor, something you aren’t used to seeing from him at all.  For the most part, the movie is pretty straightforward and not a lot of thinking is required, but I did like having Topher Grace’s doctor character as one of the characters, and not a soldier or gangster like the others, it is as if the predators intentionally chose a medic to care for the team.  This entry into the Predator franchise is just a tick behind the original in terms of enjoyment level, but it is far ahead of Predator 2 or the 2 AVP movies.

Read about the other 5 movies after the jump!

Ninja Assassin – 2009; Rated R.  99 minutes.  Starring Rain; Rick Yune; & Naomie Harris.  My rating:  5 out of 10.

Considering that the lead, Rain, is an Asian pop star, and not a professional martial artist, he surprisingly is able to hold his own in the action scenes, making you think he’s been a martial artist his whole life, and not a pop star just moving into acting.  He’d previously been in Speed Racer, where he got the attention of the Wachowski Brothers (directors of that film and producers of this).  This film is drenched in gore, with body parts flying and excessive gallons of blood splashing everywhere.  Too bad that a lot of the action scenes are very dark, making it hard to see the actual fighting.  Perhaps this was done to overcome the limitations of Rain as a martial artist?  He looked good in the scenes that did have lighting though, so I don’t know.  Either way, this movie is average.  If you like ninja movies, give this a watch, if not, you haven’t missed anything if you don’t see this.

Machete – 2010; Rated R.  105 minutes.  Starring Danny Trejo, Robert De Niro, Jessica Alba, Michelle Rodriguez, Cheech Marin, Don Johnson, Lindsay Lohan, and Steven Seagal.  My rating:  7 out of 10.

This film sprung out of the Robert Rodriguez/Quentin Tarantino film Grindhouse, when a mock trailer for the fictional movie Machete was included in that film.  A lot of the scenes in that trailer actually wound up in Machete, even though the trailer was filmed a couple years prior.  The response to that trailer was positive enough that Rodriguez decided to make it into a feature length film.  The film is designed to be intentionally over the top, violent, and gritty, just like the film Grindhouse, and other similar films from the 1970s.  Considering that is the goal the film has for itself, it meets its goal perfectly.  It is entertaining and filled with cartoonish violence, and a little bit tongue in cheek as well.  Lohan is playing a caricature of her real self, which is funny to see, but at the same time kind of tragic, like watching a train wreck in slow motion.  De Niro plays a great spoof of a Texan politician, scoring some nice political points in the real world by being such a jerk of a character.  Trejo is great as the lead, Machete, he actually carries the film quite well and makes a great action star.  All in all, not a bad way to spend an hour and a half, if you liked the Grindhouse double feature that Tarantino and Rodriguez released back in 2007.  If those movies weren’t your style, then skip Machete because you probably won’t like this at all either.

Shoot ‘Em Up – 2006, Rated R.  86 minutes.  Starring Clive Owen, Paul Giamatti, and Monica Bellucci.  My rating:  8 out of 10.

This movie was flat out fun, a great action movie that is striving for nothing more than entertaining you with the most over the top, impossible in reality gunfights a film has ever seen.  If John Woo ever saw this film, he probably loved it.  There are gunfights in warehouses, derelict buildings, rooftops, while driving, and even in mid-air during free fall skydiving.  The gunplay is so over the top that it cannot even be taken seriously, and Mythbusters tackled some of the effects in this film to see if they could replicate them (and couldn’t) so the gunfights defy the laws of physics.  That doesn’t mean they’re not entertaining, however.  Clive Owen stars as the mysterious Smith, a man of unknown background who is a wizard with a gun in his hand.  I guess he wanted to make this light, silly movie after the serious roles of Inside Man and Children of Men that came out the year before.  His wisecracks and quips (my favorite is “Eat your vegetables” after he kills a man with a carrot) are very funny, as are those of Paul Giamatti as the villain.  This film is definitely fun, even if it is a little twisted.  If you missed this when it was out in theaters a few years ago, and you’re a fan of Clive Owen, check this one out, it’s a lot of fun.

The Expendables – 2010, Rated R.  103 minutes.  Starring Sylvester Stallone, Jason Statham, Jet Li, Dolph Lundgren, Randy Couture, Steve Austin, Terry Crews, Eric Roberts, and Mickey Rourke.  My rating:  7 out of 10.

Despite an all star cast of a lot of major action stars, The Expendables does not actually live up to its hype and is in fact a little bit disappointing.  The action sequences are good, but nothing particularly new that hasn’t been done in a film before.  There aren’t really any sequences that stand out and make you go “wow, that was cool” like there are in other action films, such as The Killer or Hard Boiled, my gold standards of action movie awesomeness.  I do have to admit however, I would enjoy having my very own fully automatic shotgun like Terry Crews does, the AA-12.  If that gun shows up in the inevitable Left 4 Dead 3 video game, that’s what I’ll use every time I play the game.  The only other thing I completely enjoyed about this film was when Jason Statham whipped a group of guys on a basketball court because one of them hit a woman.  That fight scene was pretty good, and reminded me of why I enjoy watching Statham in action films.  Other than that though, this film is rather straightforward and linear, a throwback to the action films of the 80s, but it doesn’t stand up too well on its own today.  It’s good, but not great like it should have been.

Piranha – 2010, Rated R.  88 minutes.  Starring Jerry O’Connell, Elisabeth Shue, Ving Rhames, Steven R. McQueen, Jessica Szohr.  My rating:  4 out of 10.

I didn’t see this movie in 3-D in theaters, and based on what I saw on my Blu-ray at home, I didn’t miss a thing and I’m glad I saved the money.  Set in a spring break lake town, the flick covers what happens when a swarm of thousands of piranhas gets loose and attacks the mostly naked spring breakers.  Lot of blood, gore, and gruesome injuries occur to the swarms of coeds wearing nothing or next to nothing.  This movie was bad, almost in the range of so bad its good.  One highlight was a cameo by Richard Dreyfuss in the beginning of the film, dressed like he was back in Jaws, becoming the swarm’s first victim.  Aside from that and a few other clever visual gags, the film is mostly cheesy.  The acting isn’t great, but considering the cast, that’s no surprise there.  And despite the nearly endless T&A there’s really nothing to get excited about in this film.  It’s just a mindless, cheesy b-movie creature feature.  Don’t waste your time, unless you’re under the age of 20 and a straight male, because that’s who the producers of the film had in mind for their targeted demographic.

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