Thursday, February 11, 2016

Millennial Trash: Recon 2023- The Gauda Prime Conspiracy

In Space, nobody can hear me say 'Ugh!'  Today's Film is Recon 2023: The Gauda Prime Conspiracy, a 2009 Sci-Fi Film.  I will forgive you for not being familiar with this one- you have no reason to be.  Basically, I have a connection to this Film that does nothing to make me actually like it.  Back in the day when you could walk into a Hollywood Video or a Blockbuster Video- the halcyon days!-, you'd find this kind of junk all over the place.  In fact, that's where I found the original Film- Recon 2020.  It isn't good, but you can forgive some of it because of the Budget.  Bob saw the 2nd Film- Recon 2022- and didn't have much good to say about it.  I haven't, but...why would I?  Now, after years of lingering in my Netflix Queue like some sort of mole in a spot where you can't quite deal with it, Recon 2023 ended up at my house and got a watch.  I'm less forgiving of it now.  If you haven't watched the previous 2 Films, don't worry.  Continuity is not exactly important when you can barely muster a Story, after all.  Said Story involves some evil Aliens with a dream machine- damn you, white noise!- that is apparently affecting all of humanity.  The plan: find it and disarm it.  You'd think that a Story this simple would be nigh impossible to screw up.  You could make it uninteresting- sure, I'll grant you that- but it would still make sense.  Not so much here, but the reasons are a bit complicate.  To find out why you should be glad you never spent your $1.99 on this, read on...
Back in 2003, some Aliens showed up.

So that crazy Greek from the History Channel was right- he was just off on the timing!
Their goal: destroy us!  They succeed.

The real tragedy: this negates such things as the cure for AIDS in 2004 (Firepower), the end of mankind's technology in 2013 (Escape from L.A.) and the birth of Rutger Hauer-bot in 2016 (Blade Runner).
After that, we see some Space Marines (thanks, Aliens!) crash their ship.  One of them sees something freaky (below), but it was a dream.

This idea is 'so good' that they do it AGAIN and expect you to be surprised.  I'm not.
Further delaying what little Plot this Film has is a 5 minute Parody bit with a P.I. in a Porn Film, complete with Grindhouse effects.  This isn't funny or interesting, so by all means continue!
 They FINALLY get their assignment to go to Gauda Prime, but even this can't be done with a 'joke' as their C.O. has a Hawaiian-themed Office.

Why?  How?  So?!?
Skipping ahead, we see our heroes finally reach Prime and...just kind of wander around.  Action!
Enough of that- here's a Family Guy-style cutaway gag.  No, really.

The joke is that our Lead is an idiot and was given a Doctorate for money.  Ha?
After all of this, there's still like forty-five minutes left!  I lost interest right around the time this happened.  Can you blame me?  The End.
Not the same old crap- just new crap.  The Film is...yeah, it is not good.  The biggest problem to start with: the Tone.  It is a bizarre mix of Comedy and Drama that just doesn't work.  The Actors don't do the Drama very convincingly and they aren't all that funny.  In fact, most of the Characters are assholes.  Don't you just want to relate to and laugh with them?!?  In addition, they way they go about both is all sorts of confusing.  Long, drawn-out Comedy bits right out of the gate- why?  Actual Cutaway Gags in a Film- why?!?  Having a Character killed by a joke one out of nowhere- WHY!?!?  This whole thing is misguided and sad.  It just isn't good.  The actual Plot should be enough for them, but they muddy it all up.  They keep cutting back and forth between Gauda Prime and the Space Station.  It really takes away from what is supposed to be an immersive environment to do so.  The conflict should be a solid one, but even that is hard to follow and/or care about.  Some Aliens are the bad guys, but so is this lady on the Space Station and this burn victim guy.  Why?  There's a whole Sub-Plot about how these Androids are mistreated, but it really goes nowhere.  It is so bad and disappointing that I feel like I have to curse it in Yiddish.  Oy vey!  While it doesn't have a Beholder in it, it does have a giant, angry CG Chicken and that is good enough for me.  Speaking of something thought to be good enough, maybe don't linger on the shot of this fake hand if you can't get the squibs to go off in proper time...
Next up, I knock another Country off of my Horror Film Bucket List.  As a bonus, it is an After Dark Horrorfest Film, so this should be worth exploring.  Stay tuned...

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Import/Export: Hunting the Phantom (2014)

From Russia with cheese!  Today's Film is Hunting the Phantom, a Russian Import Film of dubious quality.  Basically, the Film is an attempt to make a big, boisterous Action Film that is kind of dumb.  If we can make them, why not them?  The Film's Plot involves some terrorists, a government program, lots of sci-fi science and a ton of stunts.  It is all so, so silly!  To make the Film have a more international appeal, they got 2 D-List American Actors.  Oh please don't do Michael Madsen!  No, instead they got Armand Assante and Kristanna Loken.  Yea?  There's nothing more to say, so Читайте дальше...
In the Cold Open, a bunch of guys with Armand Assante kill some guy in a field while they cross-cut between a Wolf and a Falcon.  Symbolism...I guess.
Right out of Die Hard, we have a bunch of Terrorists holding a building hostage.  Also like said Film, there is more to the situation than it seems.
Our Hero is a pretty generic, white-meat guy who happens to know Parkour and how to kick bad guy ass!
He can also survive this explosion.

How is there any drama after this again?
In the wake of the attack, some missing information and two of the Criminals escaping, things get worse as our Hero faces accusations!
His only hope: one of the Criminals that he fought earlier.  I can't see this working out well.
Fun Fact: you can crash head-first into a moving Train with your car if you're in a silly Action Film.
Can the mismatched pair work together to save the World and its freedom?  Can a Scarface Poster help in any way?
Will the evil Loken succeed in her plan to control the World?  To find out, catch that Phantom!  The End.
Silly, forgettable stuff.  Hunting the Phantom is not a bad Movie per se.  The Camera is pointed in the right direction, the Special Effects are good and the Acting is passable.  One note on that- Dubbing.  Most of the people in the Film are clearly Dubbed.  Is it distracting?  Yes.  Is it good Dubbing?  So-so.  It is a bit hard to judge the Acting since I can only hear 2 of the Actors in their native tongue.  Aside from that, the whole thing has a sort of cheesy feel to it.  It isn't trying to be corny or any of that, which is good.  Most of the time, that kind of stuff gets real old, real fast.  In this Film's case, everything is played straight.  Even when people are fighting evil Stewardesses, doing Parkour for no reason or flipping Cars, it is played straight.  It is still not great though.  Given how cliche and silly the whole thing is, it is hard to really get emotionally-invested in the whole thing.  It is just plain goofy at times.  It can be fun though, depending on your like of this kind of thing.  At least one person I know will enjoy the Film for this moment alone...
Next up, a Sci-Fi Sequel from a Series that I haven't touched since 2009.  Will the final Film make up for all of the crap?  Stay tuned...

Friday, February 5, 2016

Quick Reviews: L.A. Slasher

If #Horror was made about *everyone* being assholes, you'd have today's Film.  Oh, right...
After some cartoony Credits, we see a woman (Brooke Hogan!) wandering around covered in blood.

She's never seen again, so I hope you enjoyed seeing the Star of 2-Headed Shark Attack and Sand Shark for 30 seconds.
In Los Angeles, a mysterious man is targeting the more vapid, disreputable cliches...I mean, people.
As the Media covers his actions and plays his Videos, he manages to operate freely.  How do you not see this?!?
This guy sure is creepy.  The fact that he's voiced by Andy Dick- really- is just bonus.
The Film is chock full of terrible people.  I hope you like watching them be punished.

Well, except for this guy.  Somehow HE doesn't end up getting killed...dammit.
In this Social Media Era, can humanity survive?  More importantly, can this do a better job than Scream 4 did?  To find out, watch the Film.
A pretty good, if somewhat insufferable Film.  I get it- you think that alot of people are bad.  The Film has a pretty clear message.  That said, it is done with the subtlety of a sledgehammer fired out of a cannon!  Seriously, Jon Waters would tell you to tone it down- we get the point!  With that said, there is alot of interesting stuff here.  For a Film with alot of implied violence and brutality, it doesn't exactly show alot of blood and guts.  It has a point and isn't overly-bloody- it is the Film that Kill the Scream Queen! should have been.  Nah, there's no way that the Film would have been good.  Like #Horror, the Film plays with the visuals involved in Texting, Live-Streaming and the like.  I can appreciate that.  The Film is chock full of lots of silly and/or flashy Editing, including that thing where you cut for like 2 seconds at a time while someone walks towards the camera.  That one's for you, Bob!  L.A. Slasher is one of those Film that I can appreciate for what it does, even if I don't care about seeing it again anytime soon.  Mind you, it does have the bizarre union of 'Machete' and 'Mr. Jinx' though...
Much like #Horror, I can kind of appreciate what they are going for.  The fact that I hate pretty much everyone in the Film doesn't help though.

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Quick Reviews: Batman- Bad Blood

So this is my first Film Review of 2016 FROM 2016.  Naturally, it is time for some Na na na na Batman...
Crime continues to be a problem in Gotham City.  In addition to that, some new Characters are emerging on the scene.
When Heretic makes his presence known, however, things get even worse!
Something big happens and the future of Batman protecting the City is now in doubt!
In that moment, will new Heroes- like Lucius Fox's son- rise to the occasion?
With so many Villains- including C-Listers like Firefly, Electrocutioner and Killer Moth- working together, it is certainly going to be an up-hill battle!
This guy- The Mad Hatter- sure seems to be confident.  Considering who his boss is, it all makes sense.

Can the day be saved?  To find out, watch the Film.
DC continues to put out good stuff as far as Animated Films go.  Let's hope that their Live-Action stuff can follow suit!  Speaking of which, what's the deal with Marvel not making any more Animated Films?  Is dominating DC in one medium enough for them?  As far as the Film goes, it sounds like a tricky proposition.  Basically, they use the Film to promote Nightwing, Batwoman and Batwing.  To be fair, Batman gets to lead enough Films as it is!  Plus him and Robin (Damian Wayne) have had 2 Films together already- time to share.  Based loosely on the Comics, the tale is pretty self-contained, but does tie together.  If you go into this as your first experience, you'll be a little lost.  The whole Story revolves around Family- which was the original subtitle of the Film- and you may be a bit confused by alot of the little stuff.  When did Batman get a son?  Who is Nightwing?  There is more, but I can't say a whole lot about it here.  That said, the Action, Pacing and Animation are all top notch.  The Voice Cast does a good job here too, so no complaints from me.  I will note that the whole thing is a bit darker than you might think, so don't think that the PG-13 Rating assigned to it is for nothing.  It isn't graphic, but it gets as close as you can get.  As part of the recent Trilogy- following Son of Batman and Batman vs. Robin- this one does great.  If you like those Films, you'll be happy with this one too.  To answer my own question, why was the Title changed from Batman: Family (as mentioned on the last DVD)?  Well, maybe it might remind people too much of this...
Good, exciting stuff.  I should note that it is darker than previous material, so bear that in mind.

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Ponytail Crap: (Mercenary:) Absolution (2015)

Yep, it is Seagal time again!  Today's Film is Absolution, a 2015 Action Film from the once-respected Actor.  He hasn't been the Lead in a Film that played in Theaters for over a Decade.  There is a reason.  He just doesn't care.  For an Action Star, he doesn't do even the bare minimum of what you expect.  He has a Stand-In and a Stunt Double in this one!  The guy doesn't even do his own ADR most of the time, leading to some hilariously-bad stuff.  At this point, it is too late to get anything great out of him.  To keep the low expectations and 'same old, same old' going, consider the Director- Keoni Waxman.  While not a very bad Director (the Films are alright-looking), he has made- wait for it- 8 Films/TV Shows with Seagal.  He has two Films in Post-Production according to IMDB.  Guess who is the Star of those Films.  Yeah.  The man has 22 Films as a Director, so nearly half of his Films are ones with Seagal in the Lead!  Holy crap!  On the plus side, they realized that they needed someone to actually do the interesting stuff, so we get Byron Mann here to do actual Kung-Fu and get beat up.  Yes, Seagal takes no blows at all- is that a SPOILER at this point?-, so Mann has to take 2x as many as normal.  The Story know know what, do you care?  Let's just jump right in...
As the Credits roll, a woman is beaten and killed by a masked man.  That's not the real torture...
Seagal is here playing- say it with me- a Government Operative- that is hired to take out an Afghani National in Eastern Europe.

Say what you will about Seagal Films- and I intend to-, but they don't hide where they are shot.
Seagal and his partner- Mann- do the job and wait for their extraction.

In the meantime, they go to a Bar and Seagal exposition dumps about how he was awesome and how Mann works for him out of a life debt.  Hey Seagal- he was there!
After talking about how he's great and helps people, Seagal does just that and helps the woman who fled from the masked man (Vinnie Jones).

As he explains in some lame narration (at least it is him!), he wants to do one good thing in his life.
So here is where things get tricky.  Try to follow along...

Seagal's Boss hired him to kill the Afghani to cover up info on Jones.
A different guy is going after the blond, since she has a tape of the incident.
That guy's boss is Vinnie Jones, even though the man works at the U.S. Embassy.
Jones' employee calls Seagal's Boss and now wants him to turn on Seagal.

Confusing enough for you?
With everyone gunning for Seagal, you can guess what happens.
Can Seagal and Mann survive with all of these people trying to kill them?
Of course they can, so that's not a SPOILER.

Since I'm out of things to talk about, enjoy this shot of Seagal...
...and this shot of the Juggernaut (bitch).  To find out how it all plays out (if you can't guess), watch the Film.  The End.
Pretty by-the-numbers stuff here.  Ever think about that expression?  A 10-second Google Search tells me that it dates back to a Revolutionary War Training Book for Soldiers.  See- I thought it was based on those Coloring Books where each section was numbered and you were supposed to match the Colors to the Numbers.  I was wrong.  What is the point of that tangent?  It is pretty much what talking about Seagal Films does to you.  They are so devoid of general interest and appeal that there isn't much to say.  The Film has Seagal using a double for minor things like going through some doors and a different double for doing such strenuous things as kicking four inches from the ground.  He seems to do most of his ADR this time, so that's a plus.  On the negative side, all of those things I just mentioned.  On top of that, his plan to cover-up his trouble area (the whole head area) now involves a goatee, glasses (for the bags under his eyes), a dyed black goatee, buttoning up as high as possible and flipping the color of his coats.  Just use a treadmill or talk to Oprah, man!  In spite of all this, he has up to 3 Films coming out this year (including one with RVD!), so my work is not yet done.  Let's see if the Barbara Walters Filter will help...
Next up, an Action Film that comes to us from Russia.  In Soviet Russia, I make outdated reference.  Stay tuned...

Monday, February 1, 2016

Quick Reviews: Star Leaf

Another Film that I've not heard a thing about and just watched blind.  Will it be a good surprise or not?
In Afghanistan, two Marines have to make a tough call.  Take the shot or don't take the shot?
A few years later, the two are reunited in the Woods of Washington.  Now joined by one of their girlfriends, the group is going out to find the famous Star Leaf.
Yeah, it is Pot.  Shocked?
Now out in the Woods, the gang discovers primo stuff, but still have some issues of their own to work out.
Things get all sorts of weird after they partake and the group gets worried.  Is there more than just a 'natural high' out there for them?
As things get too much, will they make out out alive?  To find out, watch the Film.
A good effort, but not a super-great Story.  The overall set-up didn't hook me, but I stuck with it.  As it went on, it definitely got more interesting, but also a little hollow.  The way the Story is framed takes a little away from it (at least for me).  It is chock full of some strange and interesting visuals- no doubt.  Ultimately though, I just didn't 'connect' with the whole thing, as it were.  That said, the Film is shot well, has no major technical errors and is acted well.  I have no complaints about any of that stuff.  The Film just wasn't for me, I guess.  If you are more into this kind of Film than I am, you should like it.  It isn't bad.  I just didn't get all that much out of it.  Make sense?  Now if you'll excuse me, I'll let someone else be a tease for once...
A pretty good Film, but nothing all that great.  Ultimately, the Story lets them down.