The “Underworld” series is really something. It has great action and special FX and terrible scripts. The new installment, “Underworld: Blood Wars,” finds the heroine played by Kate Beckinsale once again in the middle of the war between vampires and Lycans, or werewolves. Her character is really hot and apparently cannot be killed and is a Death Dealer. Charles Dance (from “The Golden Child” and “Alien 3”) is also in the movie as the heroine’s (I think)grandfather, and he hams it up in fine Christopher Lee fashion. He’s a great actor and has helped save many a genre film. However, most of the acting and literally the entire script is bad. All this business about Lycans and Death Dealers is beyond me to explain, but what’s good about this movie and the series is the action and set design. I did feel like I was in another world, albeit a world without character development.
To say this film is ridiculous is a grave understatement; there is so much sneering and so many double-crosses that the film becomes a parody of itself. Beckinsale doesn’t act; she just poses. Many of the actors appear to be posing for a Calvin Klein commercial, in fact. And yet despite all this, I LIKED this flick. It’s like a Hammer film crossed with Clive Barker’s “Nightbreed” on crack. It aims for a sort of “Empire Strikes Back” kind of feeling, and it doesn’t totally fail. It earns its R rating with massive bloodshed and lots of sexual innuendo. And it doesn’t seem TOO much like a video game. The series also beat “Twilight” and “The Daybreakers” to the screen, so it was passably original. If the scripts had ever been any good, this could’ve been the greatest horror series ever. As it is, it is one of my leading guilty pleasure. You have to put your brain on hold, but if you do, “Underworld: Blood Wars” is good fun. I would compare it to the 90s sci-fi epic “Waterworld” in that regard.
I attempted to watch “Nocturnal Animals” the other day. I did not find it dull, but it was a real nasty turn-off of a movie. It starts with fat, sultry chicks giving you the eye while dancing naked in slow motion. Yes it really does. Next follows a self-absorbed woman artist in a bad relationship who receives a manuscript for a novel dedicated to her from her even more self-absorbed ex-husband called “Nocturnal Animals.” The novel follows a suburban family off the road by some redneck psychos, and the mother and daughter end up naked and dead. This was followed by a dinner scene between our two self-absorbed artists in which they bash Republicans. At this point, Deplorable Steve and I walked out.
First of all, why this POS getting good reviews while the terrific “Allied” is getting panned? “Allied” has characters we like and admire; this film has naked singing fat chicks layered over the opening credits. Lots of directors imitate David Lynch, but Tom Ford forgets that Lynch’s films are beautiful and fun. All “Nocturnal Animals” accomplishes is depressing the audience and making us regret listening to the critics.
Hey, guys, this one’s for you: Tired of movies about yuppies, families, and placating women? Want to see a movie by real men? A film about the things we really care about, like drinking and screwing? Then let me introduce you to “Bad Santa 2,” a welcome blast of relief from nauseating films like Disney’s “Moana.”
This film brings back 3 of the key original characters from “Bad Santa,” namely the con man Santa with the drinking and sex addiction problem (Billy Bob Thornton), the funny but nasty and mean dwarf (Tony Cox), and the fat kid, now grown up, who grabs onto Thornton like a leech (Brett Kelly). Added to the cast is Kathy Bates, as Thornton’s white trash mother, who makes Thornton seem well-adjusted by comparison. This movie works for two reasons: 1. It is in such bad taste that it is in a class by itself; ordinary standards of decency do not apply to this film. 2. Billy Bob Thornton is one of the greatest comedic actors of all time. Whether dealing with unruly, urinating children or Santa pedophiles, he is always ready with an extremely cunning quip. This film is getting bad reviews, but I liked it for the politically incorrect Christmas farce that it is and I highly recommend it to those sick of sappy Hollywood yawners. It puts the “ho” back in “ho, ho, ho.” –CoolAC
If you avoid one kids’ film this year, make it “Pete’s Dragon.” For some reason, I thought this film would be entertaining; I even got the 3D glasses for it. What did I get for my faith in this film? A phony-looking E.T. dragon and Robert Redford, looking about 80, telling stories to 7-year olds. It is a mystery to me why this film received good reviews. After about 20 minutes, I stormed out of the cinema and got a full refund. I NEVER do that, but then again, this film is boring sludge masquerading as quality entertainment.
On the other hand, the new “Ben-Hur” is a rather good remake of the Charlton Heston classic. I rather liked the mix of bloody action and Christian themes, and cutting back on the gay subtext from the classic film resulted in a much shorter movie. In addition, I liked Morgan Freeman’s performance and the slave galleon and chariot race sequence are really well done. Also, the script is surprisingly good, with a strong focus on characterization. Ok, it’s not the greatest film ever, but I liked it. You could do a lot worse. Somehow this film managed to flop and lose $120 million: http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/news/ben-hur-faces-120m-loss-925302 –CoolAC
artwork by Saint Reggie
Suicide Squad is Worth Seeing (3.5 of 5 stars)
One of the few pleasant surprises of the summer is “Suicide Squad,” which has enough style, energy, and decent acting to overcome a not-so-great script. Being a film about C-list superheroes allows the film to have a light tone that has been sorely lacking in the recent Batman efforts, although an overweight Ben Affleck is around to around to remind us of “Batman v. Superman.” Will Smith gives a sympathetic performance as Deadshot, who never misses, but it is the women, Margot Robbie and Viola Davis, who walk off with the film. Robbie is every adolescent’s wet dream as Harley Quinn, a lethal sex kitten, while Davis oozes strength and menace as a C.I,A. agent. Jared Leto is fine but under-used as the Joker, and the script doesn’t add to that much, but I still think “Suicide Squad” is a winner. There’s plenty of action to spare. – CoolAC
Sausage Party is Surprisingly Good (4 of 5 stars)
“Sausage Party” is the year’s most offensive film, and also one of the year’s best. Why does it work so well? Perhaps because it has not been test-screened to death; it left me with the feeling that I’d really seen something. At first it seems like a dumb stoner comedy about talking food, and that’s what I expected going in. But as it went on, I could see that it was making real satiric points about race, gender, religion, and sexuality. I was actually thinking as I laughed, and engrossed in it in a way I would not have thought possible. To top it off, the animation is superb. Seth Rogen plans to make a sequel and more R-rated cartoons. I think that sounds like a good idea. See “Sausage Party”; it’ll make you think twice about eating. -CoolAC
Bad Moms (2016). R 100 min (Comedy)
I went to see this comedy with an open mind. Its from the writers of The Hangover Series, which is very hit of miss. I knew going in there could be a lot on man-hating in the film, due to the nature of the storyline. However, I wanted to see if it was a raucous Animal House styled comedy, or more of a PC thing like the recent Ghostbusters reboot (which I reviewed recently). The lead actress Mila Kunis is from Black Swan and Jupiter Ascending. She has a nice face. She really isn’t very funny though. And she isn’t really hot enough to hold my attention in a lead role. Everything tends to seem scripted in modern comedies like this. There never seems to be any improvisation, and the conversations never seem very fluid, but rather perfunctory and situational.
This flick started off okay. Kathryn Hahn is funny as the raunchy slutty MILF sidekick. Then the plot starts to kick in. It revolves around her bitching about her part-time job and how hard it is to drop kids off at school (when the kids could probably bicycle there anyways). PTA meetings are so hard. Why can’t the state just take care of her brats all day and night and leave her alone – so she can drink and do her nails? Movies like this always spend too much screen time with annoying unfunny child actors. The kids are either dopey or complainers these days. I miss movies like the original Vacation (with Chevy Chase) or Adventures in Babysitting where the child actors were actually entertaining. The film The Sitter with Jonah Hill from about 5 years ago was the last decent comedy with kids in it that I can remember.
I started to get uncomfortable when every white guy or female in the movie is lame/stupid/evil and every authority figure (the principle/ the marriage counselor) is black . Next the lead disses ska music, but we get slow motion “wow so cool” shots of her with rap and dance music constantly. And drinking is glamorized throughout the film. The worst part is we were an hour ten minutes through the film and there were still no female breasts yet, but guys were showing off their chest two or three times. Also the lady berates her son as lazy and dislikes every male in the film except for a Latin guy who first appears with a pink backpack on . I was able to watch about one hour and ten minutes of this film before I became nauseous and had to leave. Luckily I got the early bird special and didn’t pay full price for this estrogen manic film. It was too PC. – Steve C.