31 January 2011

The Mechanic

The Mechanic was originally a Charles Bronson starring vehicle with Jan-Michael Vincent made in 1972. That’s right, Airwolf himself opposite the gnarled Bronson. I watched it on Netflix through their streaming plan. It was a slow moving, low action, low budget movie. The opening twelve minutes had no dialog. That was amazing to me. You could not do that anymore. If you go longer than thirty seconds without people talking, I think they throw your script out the window; or they cast Nic Cage. Anyway, the original The Mechanic and the new The Mechanic follow very similar storylines and plots. Jason Statham is way cooler than Charles Bronson as Arthur Bishop, a hired assassin for a mysterious agency. I have a deep appreciation for Ben Foster and his acting. Though, for the role of Steve McKenna, I could go either for Foster, or for Stringfellow Hawke. But, I will focus on just the remake.

The Mechanic opens with Arthur Bishop killing a target, in a very sneaky way. When he gets back to his house, which he to access via boat, he is contacted by his handler Harry McKenna, played by Donald Sutherland. Bishop’s next target, Harry McKenna. He meets with the agency’s top dog, only to discover why the hit has been called on Harry. This leads Bishop to cross paths with Harry’s estranged son, Steve. Bishop decides to turn Steve’s anger and vengeance into the skills required to be a mechanic himself.

Steve does his first job alone, and it goes terribly wrong. Next they do a job together. A hit is put out on them by the agency. Why is the hit put out? Because Arthur uses Steve on a job meant for him. The agency does not like this. Along the way, they discover there was a conspiracy with Harry, and that it may not have been on the up and up. This only adds fuel to the fire. They decide to wage a war against the agency.

In an epic finale showdown/shootout/car chase of awesomeness, our heroes come toe to toe with the agency. In the aftermath, Steve discovers the truth about his father’s murder. Both the movies have the same ending, but not the same final scene.

The Mechanic joins the long list of enjoyable action movies starring Jason Statham. This one would rank in the top five for sure. It is just too bad that CBS Films has no idea what they are doing when it comes to marketing and getting the exposure necessary. There is no reason why this movie, with a modest budget of $40 million, should not turn an easy profit. Yet, Statham has really not carried a movie much farther than $35 million. I enjoyed this movie very much, and cannot wait to watch it again. I can do without seeing the original again. I am glad I saw it, but this one was so much better.

19 January 2011

The Green Hornet (3D)

Hornet Stings, in a Good Way

To say The Green Hornet is a bad movie would be wrong. To say it was a great movie would be equally wrong. I had low expectations when entering the cinema to see the latest from director Michael Gondry and writer Seth Rogen. The news and buzz surrounding The Green Hornet did not help it. It was pushed from its December opening to January for reshoots and 3D work after poor test screenings. I was afraid of wasting my time and money on this film. I got free tickets to one of many of the St. Louis screenings. So, my money was safe. All I had to lose was time.

I am too young to know the original show starring Bruce Lee. So, I have no frame of reference of what this show should be, just what it is. There were many articles about this movie before it came out. Many said that they did not care for Seth Rogen playing a super hero. Some stated that they had the same stunt driving coordinator that worked on The Fast and the Furious. Many talked about how bad the movie was as a whole. I had all this in mind when I went.

I enjoyed The Green Hornet. I found it very entertaining. My time was not wasted. I thought a few of the 3D scenes were stupid, but for the most part they worked. The car stunts and action was great. As for Seth Rogen as a super hero, I think the point of the movie is that he wasn’t one, but wanted to be one. This movie serves as the “origin” and “training” of Britt Reid. My only complaint about the movie is the realization that Seth Rogen cannot act. He is just Seth Rogen being Seth Rogen as The Green Hornet. I do not see an Oscar in his near future.

The Green Hornet opens with a flashback to James Reid, played by Tom Wilkinson, ripping the head off of an action figure belonging to a young Britt Reid. It was next to pointless, other than to show that James is all about business, and that business is the news. Next, we get the hilarious cameo by James Franco, who could win an Academy Award in February, and our introduction to Chistoph Waltz, who won one last February, playing the movie’s central villain Chudnofsky. The scene was hilarious to say the least. Chudnofsky was brilliantly played by Waltz. It

So, from here the movie really is about Britt Reid becoming Batman and Kato becoming Robin, but really Kato is Batman and Britt is Robin. The plot is overly told to you, as if you are not smart enough to figure it out yourself. I found that a bit insulting. It centers on our “heroes” acting as villains to help draw out the real villains. It was a decent plot. I have no idea if this was the plot of the original series or not, but it was at least an original idea by today’s standards.

Early in the production, Seth Rogen and Michael Gondry made a big deal of having the car stunt coordinator from The Fast and the Furious. So, I was expecting awesome action scenes and chase scenes with the cars. They did not disappoint. The action was good enough. The car sequences were good. The fight scenes were good. I just didn’t understand why in the first fight scene, the kicks “stretched” the screen. It is hard to explain, but it only happened in this scene. It was as if they filmed it, looked at it, decided it didn’t work, and forgot to take it out.

The story telling might have been a bit uneven, but as a whole, it was an enjoyable two hours. I did enjoy seeing Edward James Olmos on the big screen. Cameron Diaz was forgettable. Wilkinson was decent in his quick ten minutes or so. Newcomer Jay Chou was excellent as Kato. There was also a quick cameo by Edward Furlong. Verdict: Worth the time and the money, but I cannot say it would be worth paying the additional cost for 3D.

Pee-Wee is Back?

Started off strong. Ended kinda weak. But worth the watch.

11 January 2011

Season of the Witch

R.I.P. Nic Cage's Career

15 Aug 1982 - 7 January 2011

Season of the Witch is a terrible movie. There is no other way to put it. No “beating around the bush.” No “It’s so bad it’s good.” It is just plain awful. When it comes to authenticity, I don’t even think writer Bragi F. Schut even knew the definition. This was his first full length screenplay. He wrote Threshold, but it was cancelled before completing its first season, I believe. He has a few shorts under his belt. After this, he will be lucky if I ever waste my time again watching one of his atrocities. The script hurts just to listen to the dialogue. The bad acting doesn’t help, but what they have to work with was just terrible drivel.

Over the past few years, I have been trying to defend Nic Cage’s career. Come on, he won an Academy Award way back in 1996 for Leaving Las Vegas. He was nominated for Adaptation. The man can act. He is the “star” of my favorite action movie of all time, The Rock. On the flip side, Next, Knowing, The Wicker Man, The Weather Man, Lord of War, Captain Corelli’s Mandolin, and on and on the list goes. His career has become a joke. Well, after this piece of garbage, I can no longer defend Mr. Cage and his acting or choices of films. This movie might actually put that final nail in his acting coffin. His only hope now is National Treasure 3.

Then, there is poor Ron Perlman. I do not understand why he took this movie. It doesn’t have the word “Hellboy” in the title. It has nothing to do with his highly successful FX show Sons of Anarchy. Short of roles covering him in prosthetics, his movie career success hinges on the Blade movies. So, I am announcing the death of his movie career as well.

Dominic Sena has not has a nine digit grossing movie since his last collaboration with Cage, and that 2000’s Gone in 60 Seconds. He did have a moderately sucessful film since then with Swordfish, but that’s it. So, he might be done, too.

Season of the Witch opens in 1232 A.D., if memory serves, with some women being accused of consulting with Satan, and practicing witchcraft. They are killed. One comes back from the dead and kills the priest. Why? I don’t know. We then jump to 1332 A.D., if memory serves, to the Crusades. Nic Cage and Ron Perlman are two of the best knights serving the church and crown. After they slay women and children, they become deserters. They finally land in a town overrun with a plague. They get found out as deserters and sent on a journey to take The Girl to the monks to have her tried for witchcraft.

So, a group of six set out. A monk, three knights, an altar boy turned fighter, and the guide. Basically, anything that can go wrong does. All members of the escort face The Girl who makes them question everything. They run into rabid wolves. They battle zombie monks, and finally have a faceoff with some master demon that looks like Dracula from Van Helsing. I am not joking. They ending was a CG borefest with nothing to offer but lame killings, lame deaths, and lamer dialogue.

I could go on about how bad the dialogue was, but why bother. Just believe me when I say, the words “shit,” “piss,” and “bitch” appear in the script. I am fairly certain that they did not have the same meaning, if they were even around, back in the 14th century as they do now. Verdict: I warn you, I saw it for free, and wanted my money back. If this is not at least in the top 3 Worst Movies of 2011, this is going to be a long year.